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Tech & Science Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs

06:06  03 september  2019
06:06  03 september  2019 Source:   newsweek.com

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Tech & Science Earth Life on earth Mass extinction Stanford. Scientists have discovered a mass die -off that took place two billion years ago —with up The massive die -off saw more of the planet's biosphere vanish than when the dinosaurs were wiped off the face of the planet 65 million years

Some two billion years ago , a significant decline of once-abundant oxygen killed as much as 99 percent of all life on Earth in a mass extinction event larger than the one responsible for the dinosaur die -off. Publishing their work in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs © NASA/GSFC A view of Earth from space. Two billion years ago the planet would have looked very different. Researchers have now found evidence of a massive die-off event from this time.

Scientists have discovered a mass die-off that took place two billion years ago—with up to 99.5 percent of life on Earth disappearing. The massive die-off saw more of the planet's biosphere vanish than when the dinosaurs were wiped off the face of the planet 65 million years ago, researchers say.

Normally, massive die-off events can be tracked through the fossil record—animals exist, then they do not. However, in times before complex life existed, understanding these events becomes more difficult—the microorganisms that made up the planet's biota cannot be traced in the same way.

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The most catastrophic wipe-out on Earth didn't happen to the dinosaurs . A new study found extreme changes in the atmosphere killed almost 100% of life on Earth about 2 billion years ago . "Even our most conservative estimates would exceed estimates for the amount of life that died off

For more than 60 million years they were Earth 's dominant land vertebrates, occupying the same ecological niches as their successors, the dinosaurs . Retallack has discovered tiny quartz crystals marked with microscopic fractures in rocks from the time of the extinction in Australia and Antarctica.

In a study published in PNAS, an international team of scientists examined rocks from Hudson Bay, Canada, that would have formed billions of years ago. They were looking at barite, a mineral that holds information about how much oxygen was in the atmosphere at a given time.

From these rocks, the team was able to show that there was a massive drop in the level of life on Earth 2.05 billion years ago. This coincided with major changes to the oxygen levels on the planet—prior to the die-off, about 2.4 billion years ago, there was a massive surge in the amount of oxygen in the atmosphere. At the end of this event—which is known as the Great Oxidation Event—oxygen levels fell dramatically. Researchers say conditions for life on Earth went from "feast to famine"—and that these conditions persisted for about one billion years.

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This article is more than 3 years old. Researchers talk of ‘biological annihilation’ as study reveals Humanity will eventually pay a very high price for the decimation of the only assemblage of life that Earth ’s five previous mass extinctions . End-Ordovician, 443 million years ago . A severe ice age led

Mass extinctions —when at least half of all species die out in a relatively short time—have occurred only a handful of times over the course of our planet's history. The largest mass extinction event happened around 250 million years ago , when perhaps 95 percent of all species went extinct.

Related Slideshow- 88 photos of Earth as seen from space (Provided by Photo Services)

Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Two Billion Years Ago, up to 99 Percent of Life on Earth Died in an Event More Catastrophic Than Mass Extinction of the Dinosaurs
"We were very surprised," study author Peter Crockford, from Israel's Weizmann Institute of Science and Princeton University, told Newsweek. "We didn't expect to see such a large signal, nor did we expect to find it in this specific type of sample.

"Over the 100 to 200 million years before this die-off event there was a large amount of life on the planet, but after this event a huge portion died off. However, instead of recovering like more recent mass extinctions, the amount of life on the planet or size of the biosphere stayed small for the following billion years of Earth's history—about two billion to one billion years ago."

He continued: "From our estimates it could be anywhere between about 99.5 percent to 80 percent of life on the planet died off around two billion years ago." To put that in perspective, the mass extinction event of the dinosaurs saw about three-quarters of life on Earth disappear, while the Great Dying event—the biggest known mass extinction—resulted in the loss of around 70 percent of terrestrial life and 96 percent of ocean dwellers.

The findings, the team say, provides support for the idea of an "oxygen overshoot"—a theory that says photosynthesis and weathering produced a massive amount of oxygen that spurred the development of life on Earth. However, the oxygen-emitting organisms on Earth were then so abundant they exhausted their nutrient supply and numbers fell.

Crockford said their discovery could give an insight into how Earth will change in the future: "Just like two billion years ago, the biosphere today (including us) relies on the base of the food chain. Today, that is microorganisms in the ocean and plants on land. Although oxygen levels will likely never change at a pace fast enough to a level significant enough for humans to take much notice, they could absolutely change over the next billion years."

He also said he believes there are probably far more major die-off events and mass extinctions that we do not yet know about. "The problem is that the geologic record gets poorer and poorer the further back we look, so we need to combine lots of different tools and intensely interrogate the samples that we have available to translate the rock record into a picture of what the Earth used to look like."

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