Since the appearance of the first living beings on Earth, we have witnessed several episodes in which systematic extinctions of species have occurred. This is so mainly due to drastic changes in living conditions in a given place. One of the most characteristic episodes of this class took place 250 million years ago. Knowing what happened as the “Great Death”, meant the extinction of the vast majority of living beings that inhabited the Earth. What is known in this regard?
The age of the dinosaurs was especially affected by a problem that affected the entire trophic chain. Only those species that knew how to adapt to the new conditions offered by the environment could be saved. Now, what were the real causes of what happened? Much has been studied in this regard, but it has only been now when it has been possible to determine, with greater zeal, what happened and, of course, to what extent the fall of the meteorite affected the loss of biodiversity.
Let us see, therefore, what it has consisted of study conducted by the University of Connecticut, in the United States, and why the loss of up to 96% of all marine species and 70% of terrestrial vertebrates occurred. Would we human beings be more prepared for a natural event of these characteristics? Fortunately, only in science fiction movies have we been able to see what would happen in this case.
The “Great Death”, an episode that almost meant the loss of all life on Earth
Known in scientific terms as the Late Permian Mass Extinction (LPME), this new study affirms that one of the key elements that would allow us to understand what happened would be mercury. According to the research findings, mercury could have been behind the contamination present, above all, in the marine environment. This could have been due to incredible volcanic eruptions that would have taken place at the bottom of the oceans.
This information is obtained after analyzing the lower layers of the seabed, which allow us to understand how there is a large amount of this main element of the periodic table. In addition, it is believed that there are large amounts of this material in other areas close to volcanoes, which would contribute to a large expulsion of CO2 into the atmosphere. Without having a carbon footprint involved, the truth is that there were notable losses of most species. In fact, it is no coincidence that there are now considered to be rare mythological animals that could have lived millions of years ago.
The study shows how everything changed 251 million years ago. It should be noted, however, that the phenomenon generated at that time had an impact from that date, producing its effects over the following millions of years. To understand what happened, experts in the field focused on very specific areas, such as sedimentology, geochemistry, paleontology and geochronology, were used.
The high quantity of mercury found in strategic points allows us to understand how this element could have had a great impact at that time in Pangea, the land area of the Earth before the great divide of the continents. It is believed that the extinction affected terrestrial animals at first, producing the leap to the various species that lived together in the seas and oceans some time later. Be that as it may, to what extent are we on the brink of experiencing a similar situation? The Earth, without a doubt, now faces other problems.
Pollution, produced in part by humans, will continue to be the pending subject humanity for decades to come.