History Lesson: Microbe-Driven Global Warming Caused Greatest Extinction indicates a new published study that looked at rocky evidence from the Permian extinction, 250+ millions of years ago, reports the UK Guardian. The rocks indicate a sudden spike in carbon emissions, much greater and faster than volcanism at the time could have created – but an exploding microbe could.
The culprit, they supect, is Methanosarcina, a methane-belching microbe, that proliferated when volcanism fertilized the oceans from the deep depths with a growth-stimulating nutrient, nickel.
Evidence indicates that global warming, driven by a methane-producing microbe, wiped out most of the larger forms of life, including trilobites, on Earth at the end of the Permian era, 250+ million years ago. Wikipedia.
Methanocarcina sent enormous amounts of the potent greenhouse gas methane into the atmosphere, shooting up temperatures high and fast, too fast for most life to adapt. Practically all macrolife (ie, big enough to be visible without a microscope) on Earth went extinct. Among the survivors were our ancestors.
Far fetched? Actually, it was the evolution of another microbe that made macrolife possible in the first place: microbes that could photosynthesize, pumping enough oxygen into the atmosphere to support the evolution of macrofauna and flora.
Hmmmm… a fast spike in global temperatures… now where have I heard that before?
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