Mass extinctions are a relatively common theme in the history and evolution of life on Earth, and the most famous one is the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. A plethora of research has been conducted to determine how the dinosaur era ended, generating theories of massive volcanic eruptions, catastrophic climate change and giant impactors from space. However, much less is known about another remarkable extinction event that occurred roughly 135 million years earlier — an extinction that may have set the stage for the age of dinosaurs . The mass extinction that occurred just before the boundary between the Triassic and Jurassic periods wiped out much of the life on land and in the oceans, leaving the world ripe for dinosaurs to plunder. For astrobiologists, the causes of this extinction comprise one of the greatest murder mysteries of all time. Now, a team of scientists is helping to reveal the secrets of the Triassic-Jurassic (T-J) extinction by studying geological formations around the world that bear evidence of a traumatic disruption in Earth's ecosystems some 200 million years ago. Recently, their investigation brought them to the shores of Northern Ireland's Antrim coast near the seaport of Larne. Northern Ireland is famous around the world for its stunning coastal drives and the lush forests of its glens and inlets. However, many of the locals are unaware that the quiet countryside also holds a veritable "pot of gold" beneath their feet for geologists. Full article here.