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The history of the planet we call home has been turbulent. The Earth has been affected by collisions in the solar system, asteroid strikes, devastating volcanic eruptions, and repeatedly by global climate crises. Some events have been particularly devastating. These are known as periods of mass extinction.

Scientists have identified five periods of mass extinction in the past 500 million years, during which around three-quarters of species died out over a short geological time. And yet, after each of these events, the Earth has recovered, to be covered in water and habitable once more.

This five-part series chronicles the history of our planet from its dramatic birth, through the cosmic and terrestrial forces that have shaped it. We explore the rise of humanity, reconstructing the major events that created our unique habitat, and showing how life rebounded after catastrophic events.

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