Permian extinction


Who are you?

I'm Professor Guang Shi, Professor of Earth Sciences at Deakin University. My interest has been in biodiversity and in how biodiversity evolved and particularly the end-Permian mass extinction 250 million years ago.

What was the biggest mass extinction in Earth's history?

This mass extinction is the largest in Earth's history. It actually wiped out about over 90% of animal species in the oceans and more than 70% of species on land.

What caused this extinction?

For over three decades now scientists have been puzzled by the mechanism behind this Great Dying in the Earth's history.

There has now been increasing evidence pointing towards climate change. It appears to be that if you trace and link up all the geological evidence, climate change appears to be the ultimate mechanism but may have been triggered by severe volcanism in Siberia. So you actually have climate change, volcanism and some other environmental factors working together in a process of linked environmental change. This led to the development of very hostile and stressful conditions for life.

What can we learn from this event?

Climate change played a major role. From that perspective, this analogy from the end-Permian mass extinction could be used as a very important lesson and perspective for understanding how our modern ecosystem will change in the face of global climate change.

About this Video

Professor Guang Shi talks about the Permian extinction.
(Source: Museum Victoria)

Length: 0:1:57