Teaching overview

Learning points

  • Extinction is the death or disappearance of all members of a species.
  • A mass extinction is when an unusually high number of species dies out.
  • A Lazarus species describes a species that was incorrectly thought to be extinct.

Curriculum keywords

  • Extinction
  • Evolution
  • Environment
  • Habitats

5 things you didn't know


1. Extinction describes the disappearance or death of all organisms of a species. Extinct animals include dinosaurs and the dodo.

Bringing back the woolly mammoth

2. De-extinction is the resurrection of a species that has died out. Some scientists think advances in cloning could bring back species from thousands of years ago – like the majestic woolly mammoth!

Persistent jellyfish

3. A mass extinction is when an unusually high number of species dies. Earth has had five mass extinctions so far, and jellyfish have survived through all of them!

Asteroid hitting Earth

4. The Earth’s worst mass extinction happened roughly 252 million years ago, when about 96% of all species died out. Nobody is sure of the cause, but one theory is that a huge asteroid hit the Earth.

Lazarus species

5. The term “Lazarus species” is used to describe species that were wrongly thought to be extinct. The Coelacanth (SEE-le-kanth) was thought to have died out with the dinosaurs – it didn’t!

Spark a discussion

  • What is extinction?
  • What is a mass extinction, and how many has the Earth had?
  • What is a Lazarus species?

Explore our resources

Complete your lesson with teaching resources on extinction from Tigtag.

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Discover free online CPD for primary science from Reach Out CPD.

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