Was it sudden death for the Permian period? | Science News

Be a Champion for Science

Get your subscription to

Science News when you join.


Was it sudden death for the Permian period?

2:46pm, February 18, 2003

Paleontologists have long looked for the cause of the massive extinctions at the end of the predinosaur Permian period. A little more than 250 million years ago, these die-offs swept the Earth clean of most life, including almost 95 percent of species in the oceans (SN: 2/1/97, p. 74). Favorite candidate causes include severe changes in ocean chemistry, huge volcanic eruptions in Siberia, and the impact of a comet or asteroid.

Whatever the cause, a report in the July Geology indicates that the end of the Permian could have unfolded in less than 8,000 years. This strongly suggests a "catastrophic" cause for the large-scale die-off, says Michael R. Rampino, associate professor of biology at New York University.

This article is available only to subscribing members. Join the Society today or Log in.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from Science News