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"Great Dying" Lasted 200,000 Years - Comments

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 1 by Alan4discussion

There are further links to other ideas and theories on the National Geographic page linked @ the OP.

There was also recently a related discussion on this topic here:-

http://richarddawkins.net/articles/643904-team-pinpoints-date-and-rate-of-earth-s-most-extreme-extinction

Mon, 28 Nov 2011 15:21:31 UTC | #893881

Zeuglodon's Avatar Comment 2 by Zeuglodon

I think it was Richard Leakey who suggested that we are currently in the middle of the sixth mass extinction event right now. Given the list of extinct species over the last few centuries, and the high number of endangered species, especially island species in Madagascar, New Zealand, Hawai'i and the Galapagos, it's not hard to believe him. It's almost as if we're ''trying'' to outdo the Permain-Triassic extinction event.

Though I do wonder how they managed to narrow it down so finely, the news that the mass extinction took 0.2 million years makes it seem far more instantaneous than I used to think - I thought it took a million or two million years. Has a similar result ever been obtained for the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event?

To think, mammal-like reptiles were ruling the roost before the dinosaurs ever came along.

Mon, 28 Nov 2011 16:12:01 UTC | #893897

DavidMcC's Avatar Comment 3 by DavidMcC

The two-millennia period is far shorter than the time span that has been widely accepted,...

Only "two millenia" now? That would be just 2000 years, not 200,000! Just a slip, I guess.

Mon, 28 Nov 2011 16:24:52 UTC | #893900

Nunbeliever's Avatar Comment 4 by Nunbeliever

Yes, 200 000 years is a very short period of time from a geological point of view... still, if this was a continuous rather smooth process, then from a human perspective it would have been a remarkably undramatic event. If humans had been alive any generation during this period would probably not have suffered noticeably more than the former or the next. There might of course have been tresholds where significant changes happened very quickly but, I assume for most part this period would have been very undramatic indeed.

I only say this as these events are often portrayed as Hollywood type disasters where lifeforms are brutally wiped of the planet in ways that leave the desert earth filled with blood and gore. And I think one important lesson we should learn from the earth's past is that potentially disastrous events can be in the making without us understanding what's going on before it's much too late.

This is definately true with regard to climate change. Climate deniers look out their windows and the world look the same. Then how on earth can we be on the brink of a disaster? I guess this is a fundamental human flaw. We tend to believe things only when we see them with our own eyes. This is of course a good rule of thumb but can also be a very dangerous attitude. That's why we so desperately need science to be our eyes and ears, to prevent us from fooling ourselves. To prevent us from blindness.

Or as Galadriel says in the first movie of the LOFTR trilogy: "The world is changed. I can feel it in the water, I can feel it in the earth, I can smell it in the air." Science is our lady Galadriel. Yeah, yeah! I know that was a cheezy analogy. But the nerd got the best of me this time ;-)

Mon, 28 Nov 2011 17:40:44 UTC | #893918

Zeuglodon's Avatar Comment 5 by Zeuglodon

Comment 4 by Nunbeliever

Interestingly, a lot of scientific ideas seem to have been latecomers because the things they described were so vast that it was hard at times to distinguish between incorrect ideas and correct ones without the finest measuring tools around. Like the flat-earth theory - we scoff at it now, but even with the Greeks pointing out the problems (such as the round shadow of the Earth on the moon, the different shadow lengths at higher and lower latitudes at midday, and the fact that masts disappear last when the ship goes over the horizon), for all practical purposes it might as well have been flat. Asimov describes it better than I do in his essay, The Relativity of Wrong.

This may be one of many reasons why the tenets of geology, tectonics, astronomy, and evolutionary biology met some resistance in 19th and 20th century history (and today in some corners of the world). By and large, humans just don't fully appreciate vast numbers outside of using them in mathematics. They seem too abstract and unreal at times.

Also, therapsids and cynodonts are awesome creatures, but you rarely see them in popular culture these days because the dinosaurs overshadow them a lot. The last one I saw I think was a gorgonopsid in the BBC TV series Primeval.

Mon, 28 Nov 2011 18:00:09 UTC | #893923

Premiseless's Avatar Comment 6 by Premiseless

Key concept: Articles like this one always remind me of my personal theism induced fears that tormented me daily when growing up, and as an adult. I'm partly staggered as to what chains my brain had shackled to its thoughts and concepts that prevented me ever relaxing within the framework of my own life. Here are just a few simple pennies that never dropped!

When the general population were absent the decimal system of number it was pretty tricky to "imagine" farther back than a few generations let alone a few thousand years.

Now we are far more used to the idea of eternity, why is it so tough for people to realise the Earth has had "forever evolution" in millions of stages, to get to where we are at with life on Earth?

It seems we still have a time concept problem. A difficulty with the notion there always was something there (minus self) and that there later will always be the same. Each of us are an amazing flash in the panoply of life.

Who needs to have it all happen in 6000 years? Did most of the humans who ever lived even know what 6000 was? Maybe we should all try pre-decimal systems to paint a picture of how their comprehension just wasn't what it is today? Maybe then we will begin to see how such ancient god figures were born out of less educated minds - especially imagined for the mass collective - and how a certain 'level of preaching' was relevant to how they got along as a society?

It's about time people started waking up to the tribal group think that lives on and still argues with all the learned information we have accumulated!

I can just see the struggling mind reading the OP and resolving to go see the man with the story about a wooden boat full of life as an easier option!

Rest easy everyone. You have all the time you need. No God is relying on your trusting the ignorance of your ancestors. No ancestors are betrayed by your learning mind. Place your feeling in your interests and your energies in what you can achieve there. This is the life that is in you!

Mon, 28 Nov 2011 18:26:50 UTC | #893933

KABOOM's Avatar Comment 7 by KABOOM

Comment 4 by Nunbeliever :

Yes, 200 000 years is a very short period of time from a geological point of view... still, if this was a continuous rather smooth process, then from a human perspective it would have been a remarkably undramatic event. If humans had been alive any generation during this period would probably not have suffered noticeably more than the former or the next. There might of course have been tresholds where significant changes happened very quickly but, I assume for most part this period would have been very undramatic indeed. I only say this as these events are often portrayed as Hollywood type disasters where lifeforms are brutally wiped of the planet in ways that leave the desert earth filled with blood and gore. And I think one important lesson we should learn from the earth's past is that potentially disastrous events can be in the making without us understanding what's going on before it's much too late.

This is definately true with regard to climate change. Climate deniers look out their windows and the world look the same. Then how on earth can we be on the brink of a disaster? I guess this is a fundamental human flaw. We tend to believe things only when we see them with our own eyes. This is of course a good rule of thumb but can also be a very dangerous attitude. That's why we so desperately need science to be our eyes and ears, to prevent us from fooling ourselves. To prevent us from blindness. Or as Galadriel says in the first movie of the LOFTR trilogy: "The world is changed. I can feel it in the water, I can feel it in the earth, I can smell it in the air." Science is our lady Galadriel. Yeah, yeah! I know that was a cheezy analogy. But the nerd got the best of me this time ;-)

In fact, Peter Ward in his book, "Under a a Green Sky - Global Warming, the Mass Extinctions of the Past and What they Can Tell us About our Future" indicates that rapid climate change can happen within a human's lifespan.

"The ice core work indicated that a global temperature change of 10 degrees Fahrenheit could take place in as little as 10 years".

"Stuiver and many others working on the ice-core record showed that 200,000 years ago, the average global temperature had changeda as much as 18 degrees Fahrenheit in a few decades".

Mon, 28 Nov 2011 20:32:08 UTC | #893973

1Sokkie's Avatar Comment 8 by 1Sokkie

The two-millennia period is far shorter than the time span that has been widely accepted, according to study co-author Shu-zhong Shen, a paleontologist at the China's Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology.

Wow! Two millennia, that is short! A lot shorter than the title suggest.

Tue, 29 Nov 2011 13:12:24 UTC | #894102

                                   ike's Avatar Comment 9 by ike

I think it was Richard Leakey who suggested that we are currently in the middle of the sixth mass extinction event right now.

Cool

Tue, 29 Nov 2011 16:13:09 UTC | #894128

plasma-engineer's Avatar Comment 10 by plasma-engineer

The time span of 'two millennia' might have been a typo - or else it might be the aspiration of the oil barons for the current round of extinctions. Let's hope they are not intent on (or successful in) achieving a world record (even if this is a secularly-pious hope).

Tue, 29 Nov 2011 23:24:31 UTC | #894235

DavidMcC's Avatar Comment 11 by DavidMcC

Comment 10 by plasma-engineer :

The time span of 'two millennia' might have been a typo ...

I'm sure it was a typo, but typo's can be unfortunate when they involve the number of zeros, especially when there isn't the kind of check on it that this article happened to have.

Wed, 30 Nov 2011 08:40:18 UTC | #894335

crucialfictionofjesus's Avatar Comment 12 by crucialfictionofjesus

"We have failed to address the fundamental truth that endless growth is IMPOSSIBLE in a finite world"

David Suzuki's crystal clear statement should replace every bombastic national anthem/ pledge/ oath of allegiance, particularly in the Land of Excess (though we are all guilty). It would be a start in getting honest with ourselves (Republicans excepted, they're a lost cause).

It's interesting to contemplate how we will end. Perhaps Venus was once an 'Earth' -but not to worry, we do ALL need that third car, fourth air conditioner, plasma in every bedroom; and of course, climate change is a total fiction. God bless the American Dream.

Fri, 30 Dec 2011 00:40:49 UTC | #903672