The timing and pattern of biotic recovery following the end-Permian mass extinction

Zhong-Qiang Chen, Michael J. Benton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

409 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The aftermath of the great end-Permian period mass extinction 252 Myr ago shows how life can recover from the loss of >90% species globally. The crisis was triggered by a number of physical environmental shocks (global warming, acid rain, ocean acidification and ocean anoxia), and some of these were repeated over the next 5-6 Myr. Ammonoids and some other groups diversified rapidly, within 1-3 Myr, but extinctions continued through the Early Triassic period. Triassic ecosystems were rebuilt stepwise from low to high trophic levels through the Early to Middle Triassic, and a stable, complex ecosystem did not re-emerge until the beginning of the Middle Triassic, 8-9 Myr after the crisis. A positive aspect of the recovery was the emergence of entirely new groups, such as marine reptiles and decapod crustaceans, as well as new tetrapods on land, including-eventually-dinosaurs. The stepwise recovery of life in the Triassic could have been delayed either by biotic drivers (complex multispecies interactions) or physical perturbations, or a combination of both. This is an example of the wider debate about the relative roles of intrinsic and extrinsic drivers of large-scale evolution.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)375-383
Number of pages9
JournalNature Geoscience
Volume5
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2012

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