When will the next mass extinction occur?
Sixty-six million years ago, the ecosystems of our planet were disrupted causing massive volcanic eruptions which resulted in the atmosphere being full of carbon dioxide. And an asteroid which was almost the size of Manhattan struck our planet earth. The dust that was created due to the huge impact of the asteroid and the planet almost stopped and reduced the process of photosynthesis for several plants. This left the herbivores to starve and also the carnivores that preyed on those herbivores.
It wasn’t long after that, that three quarters of the world’s species was extinct forever. Dinosaurs, marine reptiles, shelled squids and flying pterosaurs which once flourished on the planet became a thing of the past and are now found in the form of fossils.
Causes Of Extinction
Extinctions of varying severities and impacts have occurred throughout the history of our planet. And they continue to happen even now. The environmental changes that take place led to pushing some species out of their comfort zones, which created new opportunities for other species. New, stronger and invasive species arrive in the habitats of the native species, outnumbering and outcompeting them. As history has shown us, in some cases the whole entirety of the species gets wiped out. And the organism that can better adapt to the environment, thrive.
What Is Mass Extinction
The rate at which these changes in the environment occur is too fast for the existing organisms and species to adapt. This causes the species to end up being extinct in a geological instant. This is called a Mass Extinction. The level at which Mass Extinction takes place are rare. Mass Extinction is also used to divide Earth’s history into distinct periods.
Largest Mass Extinction
The extinction of the dinosaurs is the best-known mass extinction to us. But the largest mass extinction occurred way before dinosaurs existed. This was 252 million years ago. This was between the period of Permian and Triassic. This when the earth’s landmass was one single supercontinent – Pangaea. The interior of this supercontinent was filled with deserts, and the single coastline kept the marine life away from the land mass. Volcanic eruptions started to take place across Siberia, which resulted in coinciding of very high temperatures – causing a huge greenhouse effect. This caused 95% of the ocean species to be extinct. And the land organisms evolved to become the dinosaurs that we know today.
Present Day Scenario
The shift of the massive ice sheets at the poles of the planet has contributed to the rise and fall of the sea levels. This has resulted in the change in weather and ocean currents. As these changes kept of happening and are still taking place, some animals have been able to adapt to them or migrated to other more suitable environment, while the other have become extinct. While in the past one could say that the humans and the animals coexisted and both were equally affected by the changes of the environment, on the other hand today though humans are not affected by the changes but are causing them.
Researchers and scientists have noted that although extinction is not a new phenomenon, but the rate at which it is taking place in the current scenarios is alarming. While humans are largely the reason behind the drastic changes in the environment and the rates of extinctions of other species, they are also capable of taking care of the environment and slowing down this process of extinction by taking the necessary measures.