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.
These are the first photos of some of the countless treasures found in the extraordinary 298-million-year-old forest discovered under coal mine in Wuda, Inner Mongolia, China.(D) 
American and Chinese scientists are flabbergasted after discovering a giant 298-million-year-old forest buried intact under a coal mine near Wuda, in Inner Mongolia, China.
Raging wildfires, acidified oceans and soaring temperatures likely caused a mass distinction 250 million years ago killing 95 percent of the Earth's marine life and 70 percent of terrestrial species.