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A new study by paleoecologist Margaret Fraiser at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, offers an interesting new theory behind the cause of the Earth's largest extinction: copious carbon-dioxide

When most people hear the phrase "the earth's largest extinction", they think dinosaurs. 

Margaret Frasier knows better.  As a paleoecologist, she knows that the Earth's largest mass extinction of life occurred at the end of the Permian Period at the end of the Paleozoic Era; 252 million years before the first T-Rex ever walked the earth.  The extinction destroyed the large land amphibians' dominance of the land, and paved the way for dinosaurs to emerge as the dominant land species. 

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee professor Margaret Frasier is studying this extinction avidly, looking for possible details to further our understandings of what might have caused this landmark event.

Her recent conclusions, published in an Elsevier journal [1] [2] (PDF) and detailed in a recent press release titled "When Bivalves Ruled the World," describe an Earth with run-away carbon dioxide levels.  She concludes that the Permian-Triassic mass-extinction was caused by toxic, oxygen-less oceans created by too much atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2). 

The Permian-Triassic extinction event wiped out nearly 70 percent of species on land and 95 percent of sea species.

“Estimates of the CO2 in the atmosphere then were between six and 10 times greater than they are today,” Frasier states.  The largest continuous volcanic eruption on Earth – known as the “Siberian Traps” – had been pumping out CO2 for about a million years prior to the Permian-Triassic mass extinction.

Her hypothesis is that high CO2 levels at the close of the Permian Period caused global warming, greatly increasing global temperatures.  With no cold water at the poles, ocean circulation slowed, and the oceans were unable to mix with the little oxygen left in the air.

She cites a variety of evidence of high CO2 and low ocean oxygen levels in this fossil record.  One piece of evidence is darkened rock from underwater fossil strata of the time.  Darkening in ocean rock of this nature indicates a low amount of oxygen at the time of formation.

Frasier also collected evidence to support her theory in the form of bivalve fossils.  The only survivors of the extinction were bivalve mollusks and gastropods -- snails.  Only shallow water, tiny, small-shelled varieties with high metabolisms and a flat shape, which allowed them to spread out while feeding to extract more oxygen, survived.  Deeper water varieties, where there was less oxygen, and larger shelled varieties, which needed more oxygen, became extinct, disappearing from the fossil record.

A final piece of evidence cited is the disappearance of the coral reefs.  Coral reefs die if their environment lacks sufficient oxygen.


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The absolute truth.
By DeepBlue1975 on 9/1/2007 7:36:46 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, dinosaurs were killed by high CO2, but they were killed by time travelling SUV drivers that polluted dinosaurs' air 252 million years before the first dinosaur existed.
All that did happen because a little girl got bitten by a Pteranodon while taking a bath in a Juracuzzi (acronym for Jurasic jacuzzi), the "Velociraptor Herald" spread out the news driving everyone mad at dinos.
So they planned going back in time to the first moment a dinosaur was going to appear, and start an extinction plan.
But they're time machines failed misserably because they had to go too long back in time and their Jurantium Processor 1 60 millihertz had a problem calculating too large time jumps and then they ended up 252 million years before they wanted. The problem was that the Jurantium crashed with a marble screen so they wouldn't be able to come back.
As everything was lost, the only thing they could do was to drive CO2 levels up and hoping that it would be enough to prevent dinos from appearing at all.
But they failed and a slimy meteor took the credit, while they only managed to killed some amphibious animals, and of course, themselves.




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