Aeolian (wind-borne) sediments in the upper part of the Kopanskaya Svita (basal Triassic) at Elshanka, near Buzuluk, on the south-western margin of the Urals, European Russia. Dr Richard Twitchett (University of Plymouth) prepares to make measurements.
The biggest mass extinction of all time happened 251 million years ago, at the Permian-Triassic boundary. Virtually all of life was wiped out, but the pattern of how life was killed off on land has been mysterious until now. A team from Bristol University and Saratov University, Russia, have now laid the evidence bare.
The Bristol and Russian researchers have documented the event in Russia after looking at 675 specimens of amphibians and reptiles from 289 areas spanning 13 successive geological time zones in the South Urals basin. The study will be reported in Nature, Thursday, November 4.
The mass extinction at the Permian-Triassic boundary is accepted as the most profound loss of life on record. Records indicate a loss of 50 per cent of animal groups or more, in both sea and on land, with a loss of 80 to 96 per cent of species. Local and regional-scale studies of marine specimen confirm the loss, but the terrestrial record has been harder to analyse in such close detail.
Joanne Fryer | EurekAlert!
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