Mass extinctions and the marine record

July 30, 2007

Mass extinctions have long captured the imagination of scientists and non-scientists alike. A new volume published by the Geological Society of America includes some of the best evidence of the relationship between major environmental changes and changes in life on the planet.

Large Ecosystem Perturbations: Causes and Consequences focuses on evidence from ancient seas across different geological time intervals. Papers contain case studies on a large spectrum of ecosystem changes with varying causes and consequences.

"The interplay between major environmental perturbations and modifications in flora and fauna is best seen in the marine record, which provides very detailed, often complete, documentation of paleobiological changes," said Simonetta Monechi of the Università degli Studi di Firenze in Italy. Monechi is lead editor of the volume, with Rodolfo Coccioni, Università degli Studi di Urbino "Carlo Bo," and Michael R. Rampino, New York University, as co-editors.

Several papers focus on turnovers associated with the Paleocene-Eocene transition 55 million years ago when Earth experienced one of the most rapid and extreme global warming events recorded in geologic history. The small benthic extinction and the plankton turnover caused by the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) led to major changes in mammalian life on land.

Other topics include the calcareous nannofossil change during the early Aptian Oceanic Anoxic Event, a severe Late Devonian mass extinction, and the aftermath of a minor extraterrestrial impact dated as Late Cretaceous in the U.S. Gulf Coastal Plain.

Source: Geological Society of America

Explore further: Neptune's moon of Triton

Related Stories

Neptune's moon of Triton

July 29, 2015

The planets of the outer solar system are known for being strange, as are their many moons. This is especially true of Triton, Neptune's largest moon. In addition to being the seventh-largest moon in the solar system, it ...

'Carbon sink' detected underneath world's deserts

July 28, 2015

The world's deserts may be storing some of the climate-changing carbon dioxide emitted by human activities, a new study suggests. Massive aquifers underneath deserts could hold more carbon than all the plants on land, according ...

Mammoths killed by abrupt climate change

July 23, 2015

New research has revealed abrupt warming, that closely resembles the rapid man-made warming occurring today, has repeatedly played a key role in mass extinction events of large animals, the megafauna, in Earth's past.

Recommended for you

A cataclysmic event of a certain age

July 27, 2015

At the end of the Pleistocene period, approximately 12,800 years ago—give or take a few centuries—a cosmic impact triggered an abrupt cooling episode that earth scientists refer to as the Younger Dryas.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.