An event known as the Great Dying unfolded across the planet over 250 million years ago. Scientists have found that the mass extinction was caused by extreme, rapid global warming.
This catastrophic event killed over 80 percent of marine species, as well as 70 percent of terrestrial vertebrates and the vast majority of insect species in the world. It is even difficult to imagine who could live on this planet.
However, scientists for a long time could not explain the long recovery of the planet after this event.
Global temperatures remained deadly high and ecosystems were depleted for over five million years – a much longer span of time than any other mass extinction event.
Scientists Terry Ission and Sophia Rousey from the University of Waikato have suggested that the extinction of one species of organisms against the backdrop of the Great Dying prolonged the recovery of the planet.
The death of silica-producing organisms in the oceans could lead to overheating of the planet. Clay minerals form in the oceans and release carbon dioxide (CO2) in the process. These minerals are primarily composed of silica and therefore cannot form without it.
Silica-producing organisms compete for this same silica, which means that a healthy siliceous ecosystem that uses large amounts of silica will help reduce the amount of CO2 released when clay minerals are formed.
It is well known that the mass extinction of silica-producing organisms occurred in the oceans during the mass extinction at the end of the Permian, and that these organisms did not recover for five million years.
A study published in the journal Nature Communications found that this would lead to an increase in CO2 emissions into the atmosphere, causing high temperatures on Earth to persist for an extended period of time.
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