Life about 250 million years ago was hard to come by. In fact, it was nearly non-existent. Scientists, studying why this period, known as the end-Permian event, lasted so long and have found a key ingredient: heat.
Paul Wignall, a paleontologist at England’s Leeds University, and study coauthor, said during the 200,000-year-long Permian extinction the Earth began cooking, with life struggling to thrive, especially at the equator.
The end-Permian event was also met with a large die-off of plants. And with no plants around to consume carbon dioxide (a gas that warms the planet) the earth became “like a runaway greenhouse—it [started] to get out of control,” said Wignall.
While some life survived the Permian extinction–such as snails and clams–the intense heat soon even killed these creatures, leaving the planet a virtual “dead zone” for 5 million years, he said. While dead zones are…
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