The extinction at the end of the Permian period 252 million years ago was one of the darkest chapters in the history of life. Up to 96% of all marine species and 70% of terrestrial life forms vanished in a geologic blink.
Volcanoes are often painted as harbingers of destruction—and for good reason. But sometimes, they can help life survive, by feeding energy-starved ecosystems elemental carbon.
A little over 250 million years ago, our planet experienced a mass extinction the likes of which have never been seen before or since. About 90% of all species were suddenly wiped out. And new study suggests it wasn't caused by an asteroid or super-volcano — but rather methane-spewing microbes.
The Permo-Triassic extinction event happened 251 million years ago, killing off 96% of all marine species, and 70% of those on land. As bad as all that was, it now appears that land-based species recovered much faster than previously believed.
Among paleontologists, it's sometimes called the "Great Dying." Roughly a quarter of a billion years ago, 90-95 percent of all life on Earth died out. It took 30 million years for the planet to recover. What happened?