Land life spared in Permian extinction, geologists argue | Science News

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Land life spared in Permian extinction, geologists argue

New dates raise questions about the extent of the Great Dying

By
4:30pm, November 5, 2015
geologists

THE GREAT DYING  Geologists dated rocks in South Africa’s Karoo Basin and determined that land species thought to have died off during the Permian extinction actually disappeared over a million years earlier. 

BALTIMORE — The greatest extinction in Earth’s history might not have been so great after all. A suspected colossal die-off of roughly 75 percent of land species didn’t accompany the Permian extinction around 252 million years ago, a team of geologists contend.

That divisive result comes from new work in South Africa that redates the demise of Dicynodon — a mammal relative whose disappearance defines the terrestrial extinction event in the rock record. The new timeline places the creature’s disappearance at more than a million years before the Permian extinction in the ocean, in which 90 percent of marine species vanished.

Furthermore, the researchers argue, the new evidence raises doubts that a mass extinction on land even happened at all.

Although many experts are not convinced, the established understanding of the Permian extinction is &ldquo

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