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Latest Extinction events Stories

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2009-04-27 09:15:00

Impact didn't lead to mass extinction 65 million years ago, geologists find The enduringly popular theory that the Chicxulub crater holds the clue to the demise of the dinosaurs, along with some 65 percent of all species 65 million years ago, is challenged in a paper to be published in the Journal of the Geological Society on April 27, 2009. The crater, discovered in 1978 in northern Yucutan and measuring about 180 kilometers (112 miles) in diameter, records a massive extra-terrestrial...

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2009-03-27 09:31:44

The same types of fishes are vulnerable today Large size and a fast bite spelled doom for bony fishes during the last mass extinction 65 million years ago, according to a new study to be published March 31, 2009, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Today, those same features characterize large predatory bony fishes, such as tuna and billfishes, that are currently in decline and at risk of extinction themselves, said Matt Friedman, author of the study and a graduate student...

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2009-01-21 07:30:00

According to researchers, brainpower may have enabled birds to survive in the midst of mass extinction. Dinosaurs were wiped out during the Cretaceous-Tertiary mass extinction 65 million years ago, but birds were able to survive and thrive. Recent analysis of fossil skulls using computer tomography scans shows that modern birds were able to survive the dire conditions due to their well-developed brains. The birds' ability to solve problems gave them a crucial edge. "Birdbrained is a dreadful...

2008-12-15 13:17:15

A U.S. geosciences professor says dinosaurs died gradually from climate change caused by volcanic eruptions in India and not because of a meteor strike. Gerta Keller of Princeton University admits her theory contradicts the long-held hypothesis that dinosaurs died due to climate change after a giant meteor hit the Yucatan region of Mexico. Keller bases her theory on her National Science Foundation-funded field work in India and Mexico that uncovered geologic evidence that the mass extinction...

2008-10-21 15:00:16

U.S. scientists say the Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction of plants and animals, with nearly 50 percent of all species disappearing. Biologists at the University of California-Santa Barbara say they are working to determine which species must be saved. "The current extinction event is due to human activity, paving the planet, creating pollution, many of the things that we are doing today," said study co-author Assistant Professor Bradley Cardinale. "The Earth might well...

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2008-10-07 10:34:46

Evidence suggests that 'sick Earth' extinctions more likely In geology as in cancer research, the silver bullet theory always gets the headlines and nearly always turns out to be wrong. For geologists who study mass extinctions, the silver bullet is a giant asteroid plunging to earth. But an asteroid is the prime suspect only in the most recent of five mass extinctions, said USC earth scientist David Bottjer. The cataclysm 65 million years ago wiped out the dinosaurs. "The other four have not...

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2008-08-31 10:00:00

By Robert S. Boyd / McClatchy Newspapers It was the greatest mass murder of all time - poison everywhere, billions slain - but the killers have never been positively identified. An estimated 95 percent of marine species and 85 percent of land creatures died, said Peter Ward, a paleobiologist at the University of Washington in Seattle. Scientists call it "The Great Dying." Life took millions of years to recover. Scientific sleuths now think they're making progress toward learning what...

2008-08-01 18:00:10

By SUE VORENBERG Scientists hope to gain insight into fossil record by studying current size ranges By Sue Vorenberg The New Mexican Some would say it's impossible to draw a picture of something when you can only see 2 percent of it. With that little information, you might just see a little color, or an edge, or a blue chunk of sky in the background. But impossible or not, that's very much like the picture paleontologists have to work with when they try to rebuild the planet's...

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2008-06-16 09:05:00

If you are curious about Earth's periodic mass extinction events such as the sudden demise of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, you might consider crashing asteroids and sky-darkening super volcanoes as culprits.But a new study, published online yesterday (June 15, 2008) in the journal Nature, suggests that it is the ocean, and in particular the epic ebbs and flows of sea level and sediment over the course of geologic time, that is the primary cause of the world's periodic mass extinctions...

2008-06-14 06:00:00

ASTEROIDS The asteroid presumed to have wiped out the dinosaurs struck the Earth with such force that carbon deep in the planet's crust liquified, rocketed skyward, and formed tiny airborne beads that blanketed the planet, say scientists from the U.S., U.K., Italy, and New Zealand. The beads, known to geologists as carbon cenospheres, cannot be formed through the combustion of plant matter, contradicting a hypothesis that the cenospheres are the charred remains of an Earth on fire. If...