Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Fossil Record Supports Evidence Of Impending Mass Extinction

Date:
October 24, 2007
Source:
University of York
Summary:
Global temperatures predicted for the coming centuries may trigger a new 'mass extinction event' where over 50 percent of animal and plant species would be wiped out, warn scientists. Scientists have discovered a close association between Earth climate and extinctions in a study that has examined the relationship over the past 520 million years -- almost the entire fossil record available.

Global temperatures predicted for the coming centuries may trigger a new ‘mass extinction event’, where over 50 per cent of animal and plant species would be wiped out, warn scientists at the Universities of York and Leeds.

Related Articles


The research team has, for the first time, discovered a close association between Earth climate and extinctions in a study that has examined the relationship over the past 520 million years — almost the entire fossil record available.

Matching data sets of marine and terrestrial diversity against temperature estimates, evidence shows that global biodiversity is relatively low during warm ‘greenhouse’ phases and extinctions relatively high, while the reverse is true in cooler ‘icehouse’ phases.

Moreover, future predicted temperatures are within the range of the warmest greenhouse phases that are associated with mass extinction events identified in the fossil record.

The research, published in the latest issue of Proceedings of the Royal Society B., was carried out by University of York student Gareth Jenkins, together with his supervisor, Dr Peter Mayhew, and University of Leeds Professor Tim Benton, both of whom are population ecologists.

Dr Mayhew says: "Our results provide the first clear evidence that global climate may explain substantial variation in the fossil record in a simple and consistent manner. If our results hold for current warming — the magnitude of which is comparable with the long-term fluctuations in Earth climate — they suggest that extinctions will increase."

Of the five mass extinction eventsΉ, four — including the one that eliminated the dinosaurs 65 million years ago — are associated with greenhouse phases. The largest mass extinction event of all, the end-Permian, occurred during one of the warmest ever climatic phases and saw the estimated extinction of 95 per cent of animal and plant species.

"The long-term association has not been seen before, as previous studies have largely been confined to relatively short geological periods, limited geographical extents and few groups of organisms," says Professor Benton. "But the evidence is striking."

The five worst mass extinctions:

Cretaceous-Tertiary — roughly 65 million years ago. Probably caused or aggravated by impact of large asteroid on the Yucatan Peninsula and beneath the Gulf of Mexico. Death toll: 16 percent of marine families, 47 per cent of marine genera (the classification above species) and 18 percent of land vertebrate families, including the dinosaurs.

End-Triassic — roughly 200 to 214 million years ago. Most likely caused by massive floods of lava erupting from the central Atlantic magmatic province — an event that triggered the opening of the Atlantic Ocean. The volcanism may have led to deadly global warming. Death toll: 22 percent of marine families, 52 percent of marine genera. Vertebrate deaths are unclear.

End-Permian — about 251 million years ago. Cause hotly debated. Earth’s worst mass extinction, killing 95 percent of all species, 53 percent of marine families, 84 percent of marine genera and an estimated 70 percent of land species such as plants, insects and vertebrate animals.

Late Devonian — about 364 million years ago. Cause unknown. Death toll: 22 percent of marine families and 57 percent of marine genera. Erwin said little is known about land organisms at the time.

Ordovician-Silurian — 439 million years ago. Caused by a drop in sea levels as glaciers formed, then by rising sea levels as glaciers melted. Death toll: 25 percent of marine families and 60 percent of marine genera.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of York. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of York. "Fossil Record Supports Evidence Of Impending Mass Extinction." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 October 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071024083644.htm>.
University of York. (2007, October 24). Fossil Record Supports Evidence Of Impending Mass Extinction. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071024083644.htm
University of York. "Fossil Record Supports Evidence Of Impending Mass Extinction." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071024083644.htm (accessed December 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) — In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 19, 2014) — Millions of monarch butterflies begin to descend onto Mexico as part of their annual migration south. Rough Cut (no reporter narration) Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) — The new year is coming and nothing will energize you more for 2015 than protein-filled foods. Fitness and nutrition expert John Basedow (@JohnBasedow) gives his favorite high protein foods that will help you build muscle, lose fat and have endless energy. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Newsy (Dec. 19, 2014) — A new study suggests a certain type of bird was able to sense a tornado outbreak that moved through the U.S. a day before it hit. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins