Beijing, Feb 6 (EFE).-
Chinese scientists have determined the precise timing of the largest mass extinction of life on Earth, which occurred over 250 million years ago.
The researchers found that different ecosystems responded at different speeds to environmental degradation, which helped in accurately reconstructing the mass extinction process.
“The mass extinction at the end of the Permian period was the worst mass extinction event in geological history,” Shen Shuzhong from Nanjing University, who led the research, was quoted as saying by state-run newspaper China Daily on Tuesday.
The extinction wiped out more than 80 percent of marine species and about 90 percent of land species, Shen said.
Scientists generally believed the mass extinction occurred about 252 million years ago, but “there was a lack of detailed research on its process in different regions and ecosystems,” he said.
After over 10 years of field sampling and high-precision isotopic dating, researchers from China and the United States have determined for the first time the specific timing of the mass extinction of terrestrial organisms in the low-latitude region at the end of the Permian period.
The latest sampling and dating show that the “mass extinction of land life at low latitudes began 251.88 million years ago, at least 60,000 years later than the mass extinction of marine life, and at least 430,000 years later than the mass extinction of land life at high latitudes.”
Based on the global paleontological database, the researchers analyzed changes in biodiversity at different latitudes before and after the mass extinction.
They found that the mass extinction at low latitudes not only occurred later but also on a smaller scale, which suggests that the terrestrial ecosystem in low latitudes at that time had greater resistance to environmental changes.
The extinction was partly caused by huge volcanic eruptions that triggered changes in climate that wiped out most species on Earth, ushering in the age of Dinosaurs. EFE