Biggest Mass Extinction Swept Earth Life within Only 200,000 Years

The Late Palaeozoic research group led by SHEN Shuzhong from Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology, Chinese Academy of Sciences in collaboration with the scientists of USA and Canada intensively studied the fossil record around the Permian-Triassic boundary. They report on the 9th, December in Science that the biggest mass extinction caused the extinction of more than 95% marine and 75% terrestrial life happened within only 200,000 years 252.28 million years ago.

They examined more than 20 different sections across South China and Tibet, collected tens of volcanic ashes and dated 29 ash beds in MIT, and established a composite extinction pattern of diversity and carbon isotope excursions based on a large fossil data set from both marine and terrestrial sections.

The new dating limits the biggest extinction to no more than 200,000 years both on land and in the sea, just like overnight to the society of human being. The study also intensively examined the extinction on land, apparently driven by extreme global drying and warming with frequent wildfires, happened simultaneously with the marine extinction derived from massive release of greenhouse gases and acid-generating sulfur triggered by volcanic eruptions.

The results of the study were published in Science.

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