What caused the Permian mass extinction? How long did it last and how many species did it eliminate?
The Permian mass extinction was the most devastating of the Big Five mass extinction events in the history of life on earth, eliminating 96% of the species. Scientists attribute it to the sudden warming of the climate as a result of the increased concentration of carbon in the air.
Read about the Permian mass extinction, its causes and effects on the animal kingdom.
What Caused the Permian Mass Extinction?
The Permian mass extinction of 251 million years ago (also known as the Great Dying) is considered the largest and the most disastrous extinction event in the history of life on the planet. It has resulted in the most devastating losses in the planet’s biodiversity, wiping out 96% of the species, both in water and on land.
The causational factor is yet to be fully understood, but scientists attribute it to the sudden warming of the climate and the resultant changes in the oceans. For unknown reasons, temperatures shot up as much as 18 degrees; the seas heated up and became acidified. Oxygen levels in the water plummeted, probably suffocating nearly all life.
Possibly, bacteria that produce hydrogen sulfide suddenly multiplied in the oceans, killing marine life, and the oceans in turn released toxic gases into the air, which killed nearly everything else. Geologically, it was brief, lasting only one hundred thousand to two hundred thousand years, but it nearly eliminated multicellular life.
———End of Preview———
Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Elizabeth Kolbert's "The Sixth Extinction" at Shortform .
Here's what you'll find in our full The Sixth Extinction summary :
- How humans have set in motion a sixth mass extinction
- The 5 mass extinction events that occurred over the last 500 million years
- Why human ingenuity might be able to save the human species from extinction