Almost all species that have ever existed are extinct. The animals and plants that surround us today are only a small sample of the variety that has lived on Earth since life became abundant in the oceans, about 542 million years ago, and later conquered land. We know of some of these extinct species as fossils, whether they are large dinosaurs like Tyrannosaurus, or animals from ancient oceans like trilobites. Extinction is an important biological process and it has shaped our world. Our own actions may be causing extinction of other species, so it is important that we understand what led to extinctions in the past.
In this website, you can learn about extinctions past and present, as well as the outlook for the future. For the curious, we have provided a list of source material. You can access the on-line database of the Sam Noble Museum to search our collections for particular fossils. Get started by clicking on the menu items to the left or the images above.
If you like the content of this website, you may also enjoy the museum's Common Fossils of Oklahoma website.
This website was developed with the help of funding from National Science Foundation Grant EAR 0819715.