Scientist Sophie Newbury studies the "dead zone," a rock layer in Karoo Basin.
Courtesy of Robert Gastaldo, Colby College
Geologic Findings Undermine Theories of Permian Mass Extinction Timing
News story originally written on March 2, 2009
You probably know that dinosaurs are extinct. That means they are no longer alive today. Millions of years before the dinosaurs roamed the Earth, there were plants and other animals alive. There were fish, reptiles, insects and amphibians. They, like the dinosaurs, suffered a big event called the Permian
Mass Extinction. This was the biggest extinction event ever in Earth's history!
Geologists thought they had found a layer in rock that showed this Permian Mass Extinction. This was a layer in the rock where there was a lack of plant and animal fossils. They even called the layer the "dead zone".
But recent work done in South Africa, where the best fossils records from the Permian time period are found, showed that this dead zone layer in this area of South Africa couldn't be a marker for the Permian Mass Extinction.
Science is about testing ideas. It's exciting to find that an idea is right, but sometimes scientists find out that an idea is wrong. Then, with even more knowledge in hand, it's back to the workbench to test new ideas!
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
Our online store
on science education, classroom activities in The Earth Scientist
specimens, and educational games
You might also be interested in:
Kingdom Plantae has almost 300,000 different kinds of plants. Plants are found all over planet Earth. They can live in fields, in swamps, in oceans and in the desert. They can live where it is hot and...more
Fossils are evidence of what life was like long ago. The oldest fossils are over three billion years old and the youngest fossils are about 10,000 years old. Scientists that study fossils know that creatures...more
Scientists have learned that Mount Hood, Oregon's tallest mountain, has erupted in the past due to the mixing of two different types of magma. Adam Kent, a geologist at Oregon State University, says this...more
The Earth's mantle is a rocky, solid shell that is between the Earth's crust and the outer core. The mantle is made up of many different reservoirs that have different chemical compositions. Scientists...more
Some faults look strong and like they wouldn’t cause an earthquake. But it turns out that they can slip and slide like weak faults causing earthquakes. Scientists have been looking at one of these faults...more
The sun goes through cycles that last approximately 11 years. These solar cycle include phases with more magnetic activity, sunspots, and solar flares. They also include phases with less activity. The...more
Studying tree rings doesn't only tell us the age of that tree. Tree rings also show what climate was like while the tree was alive. This means that tree rings can tell us about climates of the past. Two...more