Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Dominant Classes Derive From Surviving Mass Extinction Events

A new discovery of dinosaur footprints 2 million years after the Permian extinction event suggests that dinosaurs rose to ascendancy because they were the majority of survivors. In other words, the Permian mass extinction led directly to the success of the dinosaurs until they were wiped out in another mass extinction 160 million or more years later. As pointed out in the article, the later mass extinction at the end of the Cretaceous allowed mammals to evolve and spread throughout the planet. As we enter this third planetary mass extinction event, will humans just be the cause of the extinction of 95% of life on the planet, including ourselves? Are we setting the stage for something else to replace us just like we replaced the dinosaurs? The difference this time will be that a species caused the mass extinction rather than some external environmental event like volcanoes or asteroid impacts.

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