From EARTH Magazine, January 25, 2017 -- It makes for a dramatic narrative: Roughly 252 million years ago, a mass extinction event killed up to 96 percent of marine life, earning an infamous name in the geologic record, "the Great Dying." However, a new study suggests that this cataclysmic event has been overestimated.
From EARTH Magazine, November 3, 2016 -- The Permian-Triassic extinction event wiped out 96% of all marine life and at least 75% of terrestrial life. It is the largest of the "Big Five" extinction events in Earth history, and it defined the boundary between the Paleozoic and the Mesozoic geologic eras. EARTH Magazine explores new research on the "P-T" mass extinction to look at what caused it, and how it can inform our understanding of today's ongoing extinction event.
From Listenwise -- The earliest known fossil that lead to humans was recently discovered in Ethiopia. Scientists have uncovered a lower jaw with five teeth. The jaw is estimated at about 2.8 million years old, and is nearly half a million years older than the previous record for a human-related fossil. This bone could help explain a branch in the human family tree. Listen to the story to find out how this fossil could fill a gap in the history of human evolution.
From EARTH Magazine, August 23, 2016 -- Human evolution and paleoanthropology are tricky subjects, not just because of the rarity of these fossils, but also because human nature seems to be getting in the way of modern taxonomy. In a field that is generally governed by logical rules when it comes to identifying new fossils, scientists are noticed there are some peculiarities applied to our own genus, Homo.
From EARTH Magazine, 02/04/2016 -- The largest mass extinction - on land or sea - occurred some 252 million years ago at the end of the Permian Period. Generally attributed to extensive flood basalt volcanism in Siberia, the extinction event nearly eradicated life on Earth. New research looking at rocks associated with the terrestrial extinction suggests that the terrestrial extinction started prior to the marine extinction. If true, Siberian volcanism alone could not account for the extinctions.
From EARTH Magazine, 05/15/15 -- The evolutionary age of grass has been hotly contested. Scientists have previously dated the earliest grasses to 55 million years ago; after the dinosaurs went extinct. Now, a new 100-million-year-old specimen of amber from Myanmar potentially pushes back grass evolution to the Late Cretaceous.
From Understanding Evolution -- Last month, scientists announced the discovery of 55-million-year-old fossils that belong to a mammal from ancient India, Cambaytherium thewissi. The hoofed animal may not have been particularly distinctive looking — it would have weighed between 45 and 75 pounds, resembling a cross between a wild boar and a tapir — but it does occupy a distinctive place on the Tree of Life. Some news outlets immediately began heralding the discovery as a "missing evolutionary link" between horses and rhinos. But is this accurate?
This story, about the discovery of ancient cave paintings in Indonesia would be a great starting point for a discussion of human origins and geology. Cave painting has long been thought to be developed by early humans in Europe. This discovery in Indonesia is pushing scientists to look even farther back to our human origins in Africa.
From EARTH Magazine -- Tucked high in the Andes Mountains of northern Peru is a remarkable fossil locality: a 39-million-year-old petrified forest preserved in nearly pristine condition: stumps, full trees, leaves and all. With its existence unknown to scientists until the early 1990s - and its significance unbeknownst to villagers - this ancient forest hosts the remains of more than 40 types of trees, some still rooted, that flourished in a lowland tropical forest until they were suddenly buried by a volcanic eruption during the Eocene.
From AGI (EARTH Magazine) -- Geoscientists studying paleontology, paleoclimatology and ecology have paid homage to a king of rock, by naming a newly identified extinct
lizard species after him. Meet B. morrisoni, a giant vegetarian lizard thought to live alongside mammals during the Eocene.
Read the complete article in the November issue of EARTH Magazine.