Since the seminal paper of Alvarez et al. (1980), now some two decades old (and almost “ancient” literature in the perspective of this fin-de-siècle generation of graduate students), the mass extinction debate has spread from the scientific community to the public press and television media. One can almost state that there is an “extinction” and (or) “catastrophist” literature and media; hundreds of books and articles are devoted to the rapid demise of the dinosaurs (and other creatures large and small), the role of mass extinction in evolution (whether impacts reset the evolutionary clock, gradualism versus punctuationism), books on...

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