The Great Dying Permian Mass Extinction million years ago

Life flourished for more than 100 million years after the Devonian mass extinction. Reptiles appeared. These were the early ancestors of the dinosaurs, yet they were not the strongest creatures on the planet. During this time, mammal-like reptiles called gorgons were the most powerful reptiles on the planet. These ferocious creatures looked half-lion and half-dragon.

Then, the largest extinction in Earth's history took place. It happened at the end of the Permian Period around 250 million years ago and lasted millions of years. It was far more devastat-

Pre Paleozoic Animals
Fossils from the Canadian Rockies left records of newly evolved body shapes, such as this primitive fish from the Cambrian Period, which could be an early ancestor of crustaceans or spiders.

THE EVOLUTION OF CHARLES DARWIN'S THEORY

Charles Darwin was a British scientist in the 1800s. For five years, he sailed the oceans on the HMS Beagle, studying fossils, rocks, and animals from Argentina and other regions of South America. Darwin noticed that there was a resemblance between living animals and the fossils of their extinct relatives. On the Galápagos Islands off Ecuador, Darwin also found that animals such as tortoises and finches had slight variations in body structure and eating habits from one island to the next. He concluded that life constantly adapted to changing habitats and environments. As a result, inventive body forms evolved to fit these new environments.

Darwin published his theory of evolution in 1859 in a book called On the Origin of Species. It was a best seller and created huge controversy, which continues even today. Scientists all over the world have repeatedly tested Darwin's theory of evolution. The results overwhelmingly agree with Darwin. This is why the majority of the international scientific community believes Darwin's theory is fundamentally correct.

Charles Darwin became fascinated by science as a boy. His schoolmates made fun of him for his interest in chemistry and gave him the nickname "Gas."

ing than the Cretaceous mass extinction that wiped out the dinosaurs. It is estimated that as much as 96% of all marine species were lost during the Permian mass extinction. On land, more than 75% of all animals died out.

Not all land animals became extinct at this time. This is lucky for human beings. The mammal-like reptiles did not die off

During the Devonian Period, living things made their way from the sea to land for the first time in Earth's history. In this illustration, palmlike and cedarlike trees dot a lush landscape, while in the distance, smoke billows from an active volcano.

completely during this mass extinction. Scientists have theorized that mammals (including Homo sapiens) eventually evolved from these animals.

Some scientists believe an asteroid hit the planet and caused what is often called the Great Dying. The most recent evidence suggests that a huge volcanic explosion in Siberia may have caused massive climate change, including extreme temperatures and lack of oxygen. We will look at some of these theories in greater detail later.

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