Indeed, it is widely believed that sea level change, particularly the lowering of sea level,was a major factor in many of the extinctions in the geologic record. Biological activity istypically high in shallow seas, and times of high sea level provide abundant habitats for marine life, but when the seas withdraw, many of these organisms become extinct. Thetotal range of sea level fluctuations over the past six hundred million years appears tohave been very large, at least 200 meters.The spectacular nature of events at the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary has tended toobscure the overwhelming importance of the Permian-Triassic extinctions, which saw theend of most of the species then existing in the oceans. The devastation on land was onlymoderately less extreme. The nature of life on earth was radically changed, and theeffects are with us today in the form of all living plants and animals. The cause of thisevent – or events- are unclear, but it is generally acknowledged that rather severeconditions would have been required to exterminate such a large fraction of life on earth.The picture that seems to be emerging from Permian-Triassic studies is very differentfrom that of the K-T boundary. The Permian-Triassic record is one of complex extinction patterns in the face of complex and partly interrelated environmental change. No heat,clear-cut culprit has been identified, but much has been learned about the mechanisms of extinction. Nevertheless, the links between cause and effect are still quite tenuous.The
Permian–Triassic (P–Tr) extinction event
, informally known as the
,was an extinction event that occurred 251.4 million years ago, forming the boundary between the Permian and Triassic geologic periods. It was the Earth's most severeextinction event, with up to 96 percent of all marine species and 70 percent of terrestrialvertebrate species becoming extinct; it is the only known mass extinction of insects.Fifty-seven percent of all families and 83% of all genera were killed. Because so much biodiversity was lost, the recovery of life on earth took significantly longer than after other extinction events. This event has been described as the "mother of all massextinctions". The pattern of extinction is still disputed, as different studies suggest one tothree different pulses. There are several proposed mechanisms for the extinctions; theearlier peak was likely due to gradualistic environmental change, while the latter was probably due to a catastrophic event. Possible mechanisms for the latter include large or multiple bolide impact events, increased volcanism, or sudden release of methanehydrates from the sea floor; gradual changes include sea-level change, anoxia, increasingaridity, and a shift in ocean circulation driven by climate change.
Triassic–Jurassic extinction event
- 205 Ma at the Triassic-Jurassic transition. About23% of all families and 48% of all genera (20% of marine families and 55% of marinegenera) went extinct. Most non-dinosaurian archosaurs, most therapsids, and most of thelarge amphibians were eliminated, leaving dinosaurs with little terrestrial competition. Non-dinosaurian archosaurs continued to dominate aquatic environments, while non-archosaurian diapsids continued to dominate marine environments. TheTemnospondyl