Mass extinction happened fast: Study
Washington: Something wiped out nearly all life on Earth more than 250 million years ago, and whatever unleashed this mass die-off acted much faster than previously thought, scientists said Monday.
Based on an analysis of rocks in China, the end-Permian extinction occurred over the course of 60,000 years, give or take 48,000, researchers reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
That is about 10 times faster than scientists believed up until now and a blink of an eye in geological terms.
"It is clear that whatever triggered extinction must have acted very quickly," said lead author Seth Burgess, a graduate student in earth science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The extinction killed off 96 percent of life on Earth.
Multiple theories about its origin exist, top among them that a string of massive volcanic eruptions spewed huge amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, acidifying the oceans and causing intense global warming.
The latest study is based on an analysis of zircon crystals in a geological formation in Meishan, China.
Fossils discovered in this region have led researchers to believe the rocks hold the secret to the end of the Permian and the beginning of the Triassic period, which is when dinosaurs and mammals began to appear.
Using the latest scientific techniques, researchers have been able to refine their estimates made in 2011, when they reported that the mass extinction happened in less than 200,000 years.
A closer examination of the uranium and lead in samples from volcanic ash beds suggests the deaths of nearly every living plant and creature on Earth could have happened in as little as 12,000 years.
"We`ve got the extinction nailed in absolute time and duration," said co-author Sam Bowring, professor of earth and planetary sciences at MIT.
Together with colleagues from the Nanjing Institute of Geology and Paleontology, the team found that 10,000 years before the die-off, the oceans experienced a pulse of light carbon, reflecting the mass outpouring of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.
The oceans would have undergone dramatic acidification and seen sea temperatures rise by 10 degrees C or more, a heat that would have killed most marine life.
Burgess said whatever happened, it moved "fast enough to destabilize the biosphere before the majority of plant and animal life had time to adapt in an effort to survive."
Researchers are now analyzing rock samples from China to those from the Siberian Traps in Russia to see how the eruptions` timelines compare.
"We`ve refined our approach, and now we have higher accuracy and precision," said Bowring. "You can think of it as slowly spiraling in toward the truth."
More from India
More from World
More from Sports
More from Entertaiment
- IAF Mirage fighter plane lands on Yamuna Expressway!
- 'Maggi' under regulatory scanner for excess amount of lead, MSG
- Watch: Michelle Obama's 'Gimme Five' fitness video
- When Subramanian Swamy shocked people at a wedding!
- Mumbaikars join hands to save Pakistani teen with rare illness
- Mumbai: Diamond export company denies job to Muslim youth
- Aapke Sitare: Astro prediction for May 21, 2015
- Mirage 2000 fighter jet landing was part of capability demonstration: IAF
- DNA: IAF Mirage 2000 fighter plane lands successfully on Yamuna expressway
- PM Modi speaks at Golden Jubilee celebrations of poet Dinkar’s works
- DNA: Osama documents show 'Indian brother in Madinah' financed al Qaeda
- PM Modi's key campaign team member may join Nitish Kumar
- ISIS executes Syrian fighter using anti-tank rocket launcher
- Woman robbed at gunpoint inside Hyderabad ATM
- Columbia student takes rape-protest mattress to graduation
- RBSE (rajresults.nic.in) Class 12th science and commerce results 2015: Rajasthan Board Class 12th XII exam results 2015 to be announced today at 4 PM
- CBSE Class 10 Results 2015 to be announced today?
- IAF jet lands on Yamuna expressway
- Check Jharkhand Board jac.nic.in: Class 12th Art Results 2015 declared
- Log on to apeamcet.org AP EAMCET Results 2015: Andhra Pradesh EAMCET Marks and AP EAMCET Ranks 2015 declared
- Fawad Khan doesn’t want intimate scenes with Sonam Kapoor?
- We hire only non-Muslim candidates, diamond export firm tells Muslim youth
- Is MSG in 'Maggi' noodles harmful for you?
- Mumbai firm booked for denying Muslim MBA graduate job on religious grounds, probe ordered
- New IPL rules could see Chennai Super Kings lose MS Dhoni
- 'IAS officer DK Ravi possibly committed suicide, suffered big loss in real estate business'
- Jayalalithaa makes public appearance, meets Governor: As it happened
- SSLC (tnresults.nic.in) Tenth 10th Results 2015: Tamil Nadu Board Class 10th X Higher Secondary exam results 2015 to be announced today at 10 am
- Anurag Kashyap to bid goodbye to India, settle in 'cinema-friendly' France!
- SSLC (tnresults.nic.in) Tenth 10th Results 2015: Tamil Nadu Board Class 10th X Higher Secondary exam results 2015 to be announced shortly