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Sioux Falls Scientists endorse Extinction for exploring how and why 95%
of life went extinct 250 million years ago in the greatest mass extinction.

Extinction
How Life on Earth Nearly Ended 250 Million Years Ago
By Douglas H. Erwin

Extinction (2006) - 296 pages
Extinction at Amazon.com

Some 250 Million Years Ago, the Earth suffered the greatest biological crisis in its history. Around 95 percent of all living species died out - a global catastrophe far greater than the dinosaurs' demise 65 million years ago. How this happened remains a mystery. But there are many competing theories. Some blame huge volcanic eruptions that covered an area as large as the continental United States; others argue for sudden changes in ocean levels and chemistry, including burps of methane gas; and still others cite the impact of an extraterrestrial object as responsible, similar to what caused the dinosaurs' extinction.

Extinction is a paleontological mystery story. Here, the world's foremost authority on the subject provides a fascinating overview of the evidence for and against a whole host of hypotheses concerning this cataclysmic event that unfolded at the end of the Permian.

Erwin begins by setting the scene, taking us from the 250-million-year-old early Triassic rocks of the dry mesas of Utah - where the fossils, few and far between, are almost identical to those of the same age in northern Italy, Iran, and China - to the richly abundant 265-million-year-old Permian fossils of the Guadalupe Mountains of Texas. After introducing the suite of possible perpetrators and the types of evidence paleontologists seek, he unveils the actual evidence - moving from China, where much of the best evidence is found; to look at extinction in the oceans; to the extraordinary fossil animals of the Karoo Desert of South Africa. Erwin reviews the evidence for each of the hypotheses before presenting his own view of what happened.

Although full recovery took tens of millions of years, this most massive of mass extinctions was a powerful creative force, setting the stage for the development of life as we know it today.

Douglas H. Erwin is Senior Scientist and Curator in the Department of Paleobiology at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History and an External Faculty member of the Santa Fe Institute. He began researching the end-Permian mass extinction in the early 1980's and has traveled many times to China, South Africa, and Europe seeking its causes.

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Extinction
How Life on Earth Nearly Ended 250 Million Years Ago
By Douglas H. Erwin

Sioux Falls Scientists endorse Extinction for exploring how and why 95%
of life went extinct 250 million years ago in the greatest mass extinction.