The big five mass extinctions. Biologists suspect we’re living through the sixth major mass extinction. Earth has witnessed five, when more than 75% of species disappeared. Palaeontologists spot them when species go missing from the global fossil record, including the iconic specimens shown here. Dec 12, · According to a new study published in the journal Science, the end-Permian mass extinction in the oceans was caused by global warming that . Although the best-known cause of a mass extinction is the asteroid impact that killed off the non-avian dinosaurs, in fact, volcanic activity seems to have wreaked much more havoc on Earth's biota. Volcanic activity is implicated in at least four mass extinctions, while an asteroid is a suspect in just one.
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