Articles

A Double Mass Extinction at the End of the Paleozoic Era

Science  25 Nov 1994:
Vol. 266, Issue 5189, pp. 1340-1344
DOI: 10.1126/science.266.5189.1340

Abstract

Three tests based on fossil data indicate that high rates of extinction recorded in the penultimate (Guadalupian) stage of the Paleozoic era are not artifacts of a poor fossil record. Instead, they represent an abrupt mass extinction that was one of the largest to occur in the past half billion years. The final mass extinction of the era, which took place about 5 million years after the Guadalupian event, remains the most severe biotic crisis of all time. Taxonomic losses in the Late Permian were partitioned among the two crises and the intervening interval, however, and the terminal Permian crisis eliminated only about 80 percent of marine species, not 95 or 96 percent as earlier estimates have suggested.

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