A Scientist Who Studies The Fossils Of Plants And Animals The Ongoing Holocene Extinction

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The Ongoing Holocene Extinction

Scientists have concrete evidence that Earth is currently undergoing its largest mass extinction in 65 million years. Over 50 species are disappearing every day.

It’s called the Holocene Extinction — The Holocene is the current epoch that began at the end of the last ice age, about 10,000 years ago.

From Earth’s fossil record, we know of Six Great Mass Extinctions:

  • Ordovician-Silurian extinction it happened about 444 million years ago. At that time, all complex organisms lived in the sea. The most common theory is that the onset of an ice age caused the extinction, which wiped out over 100 families of marine life. Many trilobite families bit the dust during this event.

  • Late Devonian Extinction it happened 364 million years ago. This event saw a major worldwide extinction of coral reefs and the marine life they supported, as well as other groups of animals and plants. No one is sure what caused it, but scientists speculate that global cooling and several medium-sized asteroid impacts within a few million years of each other may have been to blame.

  • The Permo-Triassic Extinction it happened 251 million years ago. The granddaddy of all mass extinctions, this event saw 96% of all marine species and 70% of terrestrial vertebrate species kick the evolutionary bucket. The death occurred in less than a million years (a very short time in geological terms) and the recovery took 5 million years to reverse, and another million years to roll over. While not yet considered the smoking gun, this event coincides with the largest volcanic eruption known in history.

  • Triassic-Jurassic extinction it happened 200 million years ago. Was it caused by climate change, asteroids or volcanoes? The decision is not clear. What is clear is that 20% of marine life and many large amphibians disappeared. At least half of all species on the planet bite the dust. This event occurred over a period of less than 10,000 years, just before the supercontinent of Pangea began to break up.

  • Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction it happened about 65 million years ago. This event was probably caused, or at least exacerbated, by the impact of an asteroid about the size of Manhattan. About 16% of marine families and 18% of land vertebrate families ceased to exist. In North America, over 50% of plant species may be extinct. And of course…this is the event that doomed the dinosaurs.

  • Holocene extinction it’s happening now. Studies of the fossil record indicate that the normal “background” extinction rate is about one species every four years. The current rate is between 30,000 and 100,000 per year.

  • You are now witnessing the fastest of the six major mass extinctions. And this extinction, without a doubt, is the result of human population growth. By the end of this century, over five million species (half of the species on Earth now) are likely to be extinct. “It’s not just species on islands or in rainforests or just birds or big charismatic mammals,” says Stuart Pimm, a conservation biologist at the University of Tennessee. He observes fish, birds, insects, plants and mammals. “It’s everything and it’s everywhere…it’s a worldwide epidemic of extinctions.”

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