Home Science Virginia Tech researchers discover sixth mass extinction event

Virginia Tech researchers discover sixth mass extinction event

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Researchers at Virginia Tech have unraveled new evidence suggesting that the oldest known mass extinction event on Earth was caused by declining oxygen levels about 550 million years ago.

This is the sixth and oldest confirmed mass extinction event on Earth.

A Virginia Tech study found that 80% of life went extinct about 550 million years ago.
(Alex Borsma)

According to this study and LiveScience.com, about 80% of life on Earth disappeared during the height of the Ediacaran period, when the planet was filled with slug-like creatures and jellyfish ancestors.

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A study conducted by researchers at Virginia Tech suggests that the loss of fossils of these lifeforms is a sign of this event.

Scott Evans, a postdoctoral researcher at Virginia Tech, said, “Previous studies by ourselves and others have shown changes in diversity in these oldest animal communities, collectively known as the Ediacaran biota. showed,” he said. “To quantify changes in diversity and test hypothetical causes of such changes, we created a database of all records of Ediacaran fossil occurrences worldwide.”

The study took about a year to conduct and consisted largely of a literature review, Evans said.

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But the literature, he said, is based on decades of past research that helped us understand early animals.

Until this study, scientists had recognized five mass extinctions on record.

The Ordovician-Silurian extinction was 440 million years ago. The Devonian extinction was 365 million years ago. The Permian-Triassic extinction was 250 million years ago. The Triassic-Jurassic extinction was 210 million years ago. The Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction was 65 million years ago.

Clamdigger Scott Ravers (pictured above) paddles a canoe to work on tidal flats exposed by low tide in Freeport, Maine, on Friday, September 4, 2020. Rising sea temperatures and invasive species threaten the livelihoods of many in the country's seafood industry.

Clam digger Scott Ravers (above) paddles a canoe to work on exposed tidal flats at low tide in Freeport, Maine, Friday, September 4, 2020. Rising sea temperatures and invasive species threaten the livelihoods of many in the country’s seafood industry.
(AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

This discovery puts it 110 million years older than the earliest known extinction.

Of the 20% of surviving organisms, scientists found that the animals have a large surface area that helps them survive.


“The most important point is that we have records that go back 550 million years and show that animals respond to changing environmental conditions, often resulting in large-scale extinction events,” Evans said. I’m here. “While the causes and animal responses to environmental change today may be different, the fact that such changes have been shown many times in the past to lead to large-scale extinction events is an It is important to consider whether such actions should be taken to mitigate the current course of anthropogenic climate change.”

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