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The disappearance of the dinosaurs!

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We love our beautiful green planet that we call home.  And as much as we would like for it to stay the same forever, it is and will not going to. In fact, the ill news may come to us rather sooner than you thought it would have.  Geologists hauling hundreds of pounds of 250-million-year-old rocks from Siberia, through Russian and American customs, say luck was on their side. Not only did they successfully transport the huge haul, but they also may have confirmed the cause of Earths worst mass extinction.

And who is the culprit behind this terrifying event? Catastrophic volcanic eruptions that spewed enough lava to cover Australia led to the die-off at the end of the Permian era, the researchers found. That die-off occurred about 250 million years ago and was the greatest mass extinction in Earths history; 90 percent of marine species and 75 percent of land dwellers were smeared off the face of the planet over the course of about 60,000 years.

Researchers say that, prehistoric volcanic rocks now provide the best evidence yet that appalling volcanic activity triggered the extinction.

But the main question we and many other research teams are trying to answer is, What causes mass extinction?” said study lead author Seth Burgess, a geochronologist at the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, California. “These events shape the evolutionary trajectory of life on our planet, and are thus some of the most important events to occur in the 600 million years that complex life has inhabited Earth.”

Scientists knew that a key factor behind this disaster may have been one of the biggest continental volcanic eruptions on record. It occurred in what is now Siberia, currently called the Siberian Traps, and spewed out as much as 2.7 million square miles (7 million square kilometers) of lava. This magmatism, or movement of magma, may have injected massive amounts of global warming gases into the atmosphere, wreaking havoc on the environment. These eruptions also led to acid rain that may at times have made the ground as acidic as lemon juice.

However, until now, scientists could not pinpoint when exactly the mass extinction and eruptions happened in relation to each other. To settle whether the mass extinction followed the eruptions, researchers investigated crystals within ancient volcanic rocks from 21 sites in Siberia.

“We are now able to resolve the relative timing of magmatism and mass extinction, and can finally say with confidence that magmatism precedes mass extinction, and by how much,” Burgess said.

The scientists found that the eruptions started about 300,000 years before the mass extinction, continued during the die-off and lasted for at least 500,000 years after species stopped dying off. Most of the lava, about two-thirds of the total, spewed out before and during the mass extinction.

Although, it brings a great rigidity on our mind about the mere existence of our home planet. The result gained from the research is beyond our imagination. Let’s just hope that now that we have determined the probable cause for extinction, we will also be successful in preventing it!

Author: Ishan Hasnat – Bangladesh

Source foto:  scinews


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