Long recovery from the largest extinction in history revealed in China's new fossil site

Dec 22, 2010
Long recovery from the largest extinction in history revealed in China's new fossil site
Eugnathid fish

A major new fossil site in south-west China has filled in a sizeable gap in our understanding of how life on this planet recovered from the greatest mass extinction of all time, according to a paper co-authored by Professor Mike Benton, in the School of Earth Sciences, and published this week in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. The work is led by scientists from the Chengdu Geological Center in China.

Some 250 million years ago, at the end of the time known as the Permian, life was all but wiped out during a sustained period of massive volcanic eruption and devastating . Only one in ten species survived, and these formed the basis for the recovery of life in the subsequent time period, called the Triassic. The new site – at Luoping in Yunnan Province – provides a new window on that recovery, and indicates that it took about 10 million years for a fully-functioning ecosystem to develop.

"The Luoping site dates from the Middle Triassic and contains one of the most diverse marine fossil records in the world," said Professor Benton. ‘It has yielded 20,000 fossils of fishes, reptiles, shellfish, shrimps and other seabed creatures. We can tell that we’re looking at a fully recovered ecosystem because of the diversity of predators, most notably fish and reptiles. It’s a much greater diversity than what we see in the Early Triassic – and it’s close to pre-extinction levels.’

Long recovery from the largest extinction in history revealed in China's new fossil site
Ichthyosaur

Reinforcing this conclusion is the complexity of the food web, with the bottom of the food chains dominated by species typical of later Triassic marine faunas – such as crustaceans, fishes and bivalves – and different from preceding ones.

Just as important is the ‘debut’ of top predators – such as the long-snouted bony fish Saurichthys, the ichthyosaur Mixosaurus, the sauropterygian Nothosaurus and the prolacertiform Dinocephalosaurus – that fed on fishes and small predatory reptiles.

Professor Shixue Hu of the Chengdu Group said: ‘It has taken us three years to excavate the site, and we moved tonnes of rock. Now, with thousands of amazing fossils, we have plenty of work for the next ten years!’

"The fossils at Luoping have told us a lot about the recovery and development of marine ecosystems after the end-Permian mass ," said Professor Benton. "There’s still more to be discovered there, and we hope to get an even better picture of how life reasserted itself after the most catastrophic global event in the history of our planet."  

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Donutz
5 / 5 (1) Dec 22, 2010
I've often wondered why it is that common characteristics like the need for sleep or bilateral symmetry (just random examples. Don't get too bent out of shape about them). They would have all had to have evolved very early on, more or less together. UNLESS you get a sieve like a mass extinction. Run the population through that a couple of times and what comes out the other end is far more related (statistically) than would be the case if life had been able to evolve uninterrupted since the beginning.
jmcanoy1860
4 / 5 (8) Dec 22, 2010
I've often wondered why it is that common characteristics like the need for sleep or bilateral symmetry (just random examples. Don't get too bent out of shape about them). They would have all had to have evolved very early on, more or less together. UNLESS you get a sieve like a mass extinction. Run the population through that a couple of times and what comes out the other end is far more related (statistically) than would be the case if life had been able to evolve uninterrupted since the beginning.


We still have examples of the primitive "other" phenotypes in such entities as starfish, sea urchins, jellyfish, and Glen Beck.
Donutz
4 / 5 (4) Dec 22, 2010

We still have examples of the primitive "other" phenotypes in such entities as starfish, sea urchins, jellyfish, and Glen Beck.


yes of course, it's not 100% effective, since it's not a selective kill-off. But it WOULD tend to reduce variety each time it happens. My point is that if the various die-offs hadn't happened, the current biosphere would have a LOT more variety, both in terms of body plans and in terms of survival strategies.
Also, you forgot to mention Keith Richards, who the theists really should be pointing to as proof of life after death.
Ethelred
5 / 5 (2) Dec 22, 2010
Starfish and the rest of the Echinodermata start off with bilateral symmetry during the larval stage. Same time they have a notocord. They form into the other shapes as adults.

Keif is more like Undead.

Ethelred
bredmond
not rated yet Dec 22, 2010
I saw "greatest mass extinction" and "China", and thought they meant "The Great Leap Forward"

http://en.wikiped..._forward
bredmond
5 / 5 (1) Dec 22, 2010
I saw "greatest mass extinction" and "China", and thought they meant "The Great Leap Forward"

http://en.wikiped..._forward


actually i should say "LARGEST mass extinction in history." Cause mass extinctions are not "great"
Skeptic_Heretic
3.7 / 5 (3) Dec 22, 2010
actually i should say "LARGEST mass extinction in history." Cause mass extinctions are not "great"
If not for mass extinction, you and I wouldn't be having this conversation.
StandingBear
not rated yet Dec 23, 2010
Maybe bilateral symmetry is nature's strategy in a limited way to aid in survival in case of failures of certain organs. Those who did not have reserves like this simply did not survive as well the stressful times.
kevinrtrs
1 / 5 (2) Dec 28, 2010
and indicates that it took about 10 million years for a fully-functioning ecosystem to develop

They are very mistaken in this believe. First of all we know that ecosystems develop extremely rapidly in less than a 100 years. Secondly, the very thought of things going extinct 250 million years ago is highly dubious. It's only to fit in with naturalistic time scales that such a long period is even mentioned.

There's a greater chance of there having been a global flood which caused the rapid burial of living things to leave fossils around. Fossils only exist because of such rapid burial that excludes oxidizing and decay agents.

The global flood would also account for the global warming with the incredible volcanic and earthquake activity that accompanied it.

After the warm water from the depths of the earth heated the surface waters, evaporation would later lead to a great cooling off - the ONE definitive ice age that we do know about.
Ethelred
5 / 5 (1) Dec 28, 2010
1/3
First of all we know that ecosystems develop extremely rapidly in less than a 100 years.
Would you care to back that up with a link to some evidence. I mean something besides a park or a zoo.
Secondly, the very thought of things going extinct 250 million years ago is highly dubious.
No. Things have been going existence as long as life has been on Earth. Which is billions of years.
It's only to fit in with naturalistic time scales
Actually its to fit the evidence.
There's a greater chance of there having been a global flood which caused the rapid burial of living things to leave fossils around
Which would have drowned the Egyptians in the midst of building pyramids and there isn't any evidence for that flood in any case.
Fossils only exist because of such rapid burial that excludes oxidizing and decay agents.
No. Sometimes burial takes place after the bones have scattered by scavengers. Sometimes they are buried under volcanic ash.

More
Ethelred
5 / 5 (1) Dec 28, 2010
2/3

Some are buried at sea after drifting down rivers. None so far were buried in a world wide flood during that covered the highest mountain a mere 4400 years ago. 600 years after men started to write things down.
The global flood would also account for the global warming with the incredible volcanic and earthquake activity that accompanied it.
Since there was no flood it would be hard for volcanic activity to accompany it. In any case the ONLY attempt to justify that nonsense was from Dr. Brown and his racetrack continents and massive fountains of the deep would have had superheated steam reaching escape velocity. Of course Brown never ran the numbers. Why wouldn't an engineer check the numbers? Because it was obvious from the start that he making up crap that couldn't stand being checked. Boiled Noah is what you and Brown are demanding.

more
Ethelred
not rated yet Dec 28, 2010
3/3
After the warm water from the depths of the earth
Warm? Its over boiling point.
evaporation would later lead to a great cooling off
Yes after the steam killed all life on the Big Ass Boat.
the ONE definitive ice age that we do know about.
We actually know about a lot of them. Last one ended 10,000 years ago. Not 4400.

So how about you put up some numbers instead of the usual vague nonsense. Like WHEN was the flood supposed to have occurred? How hot was that water? How deep did it come from? How much was there? Where it evidence for the flood, the volcanoes and the genetic evidence of all life dieing such a short time ago?

Ethelred