New light shed on the Permian extinction

A mass extinction that wiped out 70 per cent of Earth’s land animals and 96 per cent of sea animals occurred much faster than previously thought.

Scientists have discovered that the ‘Permian Extinction’ happened up to ten times quicker than it has been believed. By using revolutionary dating techniques when studying rocks from the period, the experts from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), have built on a theory that began in the 19th century.

The extinction occurred around 250 million years ago and is believed to have been triggered by widescale volcanic eruptions which raised the Earth’s temperature to unsustainable levels.

Animals that died included the largest insects ever known and the event paved the way for the Mesozoic era which included the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous period.