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Mass extinctions

Mass extinctions

C025/8061

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SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Mass extinctions. Graph plotting the genus extinction intensity for marine fossils (vertical axis) against time in units of millions of years (horizontal axis). Coloured vertical zones represent geological time scales from Cambrian (light red, 542-488 million years ago) to Holocene (yellow, 11,700 years to present day). Extinction events occurring over the Cambrian appear as large peaks but are based on very sparse fossil records. The 'big five' mass extinctions are: Ordovician-Silurian (450-440 mya), Late Devonian (375-360mya), Permian-Triassic (252 mya), Triassic-Jurassic (201mya), Cretaceous-Paleogene (66mya). The Permian-Triassic event was the largest in Earth's history, wiping out 53% of marine families and an estimated 95% of all species.

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