Research Article

Temperature-dependent hypoxia explains biogeography and severity of end-Permian marine mass extinction

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Science  07 Dec 2018:
Vol. 362, Issue 6419, eaat1327
DOI: 10.1126/science.aat1327

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Drivers of the “Great Dying”

Though our current extinction crisis is substantial, it pales in comparison to the largest extinction in Earth's history, which occurred at the end of the Permian Period. Referred to as the “Great Dying,” this event saw the loss of up to 96% of all marine species and 70% of terrestrial species. Penn et al. explored the extinction dynamics of the time using Earth system models in conjunction with physiological data across animal taxa (see the Perspective by Kump). They conclude that increased marine temperatures and reduced oxygen availability were responsible for a majority of the recorded extinctions. Because similar environmental alterations are predicted outcomes of current climate change, we would be wise to take note.

Science, this issue p. eaat1327; see also p. 1113