Paleontologists Identify New Mass Extinction Event | Paleontology

Paleontologists Identify New Mass Extinction Event | Paleontology

The Carnian Pluvial Episode, a major climate change event that occurred around 234 to 232 million years ago (Late Triassic epoch), was a time of global environmental changes and possibly substantial volcanism. A new analysis of paleontological data suggests that this event was a major — but previously neglected — time of extinction and may be linked to the disappearance of up to 33% of all marine genera (invertebrates, vertebrates, and protists) as well as many tetrapod clades and to the explosive diversification of many key modern groups of plants and animals (conifers, insects, dinosaurs, crocodiles, lizards, turtles, and mammals). In the research, University of Bristol’s Dr. Mike Benton, Dr. Jacopo Dal Corso from the China University of Geosciences at Wuhan and their colleagues reviewed all the geological and paleontological evidence and determined what had happened. The cause was most likely massive volcanic eruptions in the Wrangellia Province of western Canada, where huge volumes of volcanic basalt was poured out and forms much of the western coast of North America. “The eruptions peaked in the Carnian,” Dr. Dal Corso said. “I was studying the geochemical signature of the eruptions a few years ago and identified some massive effects on the atmosphere worldwide.” “The eruptions were so huge, they pumped vast amounts of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, and there were spikes of global warming.” The warming was associated with increased rainfall, and this had been detected back in the 1980s by geologists Mike Simms and Alastair Ruffell as a humid episode lasting about one million years ...
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