A pet peeve about the portrayal of geologic time…
This is quick, random, and a little ranty.
There was a program on PBS last night about early dinosaurs. It seemed a little dated (I don’t know, maybe from the late 80s/early 90s). I wasn’t really watching it…since we don’t have cable we end up watching a lot of PBS (it’s either that or Are You Smarter Than a 5th-Grader, which is a different rant for another time).
Anyway…I really dislike these statements (I’m paraphrasing):
And then the Permian period ended and gave way to the Triassic period. At the same time, a major extinction, a mass extinction occurred.
They make it sound like a coincidence. As if the Permian and Triassic periods somehow exist as fundamental divisions of time. Wrong. The Permian period ends because of the mass extinction. That’s how it’s defined!! I hear this all the time for the K-T as well on these, otherwise fairly enjoyable, popular science programs. It’s not ‘the dinosaurs became extinct at the end of the Cretaceous’ … it’s ‘the end of the Cretaceous is marked by a mass extinction, including dinosaurs’.
It’s not that hard.