Date and Time
Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution, 16-18 Queen Square, Bath BA1 2HN
Two hundred and fifty million years ago, at the end of the Permian period, life was almost completely wiped out by an environmental catastrophe of huge magnitude. As few as 5% of species survived. The extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago was a minor event by comparison. At the end of the Permian, complex ecosystems on land and in the sea were picked apart and destroyed. Coral reefs, fishes, shellfish, trilobites, plankton, and many other groups in the sea disappeared. On land, the sabre-toothed gorgonopsian reptiles and their rhinoceros-sized prey, the dinocephalians and pareiasaurs, were wiped out. After the event, the Earth was a cold, airless place with only one or two species eaking out a poor existence. What happened, and how did life recover?
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