The forgotten world of the Permian epoch, of the supercontinent of Pangaea, changed during the so-called the Great Dying or Great Permian Extinction, as it created a series of mass deaths of mammal precursors as well as that of our ancestors. However, it gave rise to the dinosaurs.
Peter Brannen says in The Ends of the World that the thought of mammals ruling the world more than 250 million years ago might fall like a big astonishment to those who believed that they weren’t doing great until after the extinction of the dinosaurs, almost 200 million years ago. Actually, these Permian beasts called synapsids were still far away from being mammals.
Great Dying mass extinction gave rise to the dinosaurs
The mass extinction arose at what the researchers call the Permian-Triassic Boundary (PTB) and demolished the majority the terrestrial and marine life before the appearance of the dinosaurs, some of which were ancient monsters such as the gorgonopsids, which resembled a mix between a saber-toothed tiger and a Komodo dragon.
The last moments of the Permian epoch belonged to the previous group of Permian mammals, namely the therapsids. The group included dicynodonts, herbivores of the size of a dog-to-cow, with huge tusks and beaks. The eruptions which lead to the mass extinction took life in a volcanic system named the Siberian Traps which is now located in central Russia. These eruptions were created by yawning gaps in the soil and were constant and long-lasting, traversing hundreds of thousands of years.
When significant explosive volcanic eruptions happen, they release a considerable amount of mercury in the air. This chemical element allows researchers to investigate the volcanic influences on the events in the history of Earth, and they also use fossilized teeth of conodonts, creatures resembling lampreys to put a date on the rocks in which mercury was amassed, Thomas Alegeo, a professor of geology in UC’s McMicken College of Arts and Science said.
These volcanic eruptions spread so much ash (3 million cubic km) and greenhouse gases into the atmosphere over the elongated period that it heated the planet by an average number of about 10 degrees centigrade. Algeo said that the number one responsible element for the mass extinction might have been the temperature change, plus the effects of it which would have to worsen by acidification and the other toxins in the atmosphere.
Earth went through 5 known mass extinctions
Scientists used an elemental mark called iridium to discover the reason behind the overall mass extinction that annihilated dinosaurs 65 million years ago, with most of the researchers believing that a giant meteor struck the part of the Earth which is now Mexico.
The geologic record from all over the world holds iridium that fell on Earth after the plume from the superheated soil exploded into the atmosphere. The mercury signature demonstrates that the Siberian Traps eruptions were the culprit of the mass extinction. Researchers are now trying to determine the magnitude of the catastrophes and which environmental issues were in charge of the mass killing, especially for land animals and plants.
A multitude of biologists believes that we are at the edge of another similar catastrophe because the release of the carbon into the air by humans at the moment is the same as in the prehistoric Permian situation. Professor Algeo said that the concern is growing and as a global problem, we should all see it and proactively deal with it.
Sam is a freelance writer who has experience writing in the digital world for 4 years after he quit his job. Sam’s interests in current world affairs gave him the drive to pursue a career in journalism. Sam originates from Russia, lived in Canada for a short time between 2011 and 2013, then moved to New York to pursue his career.