STATES CHRONICLE – Scientists part of the University of California Berkeley have begun studying a particular species of small pine tree to try and identify the cause of the “Great Dying”, the largest mass extinction event known to have happened on Earth. What they’ve found so far could be somewhat concerning to the modern world.
Scientists Investigate Role of Ozone Layer Destruction in Great Dying
For many years, the exact reason behind what’s known as the Great Dying has remained a mystery to the scientific community. Despite killing about 95% of marine life and 70% of land life on the entire planet some 252 million years ago, what caused this apocalyptic event could never totally be pinned down.
The most extensive mass extinction in history is often theorized to have been caused by volcanic activity. This is considered to have led to a severe destruction of the ozone layer. But exactly why this was the cause of so much death is not clear.
Professor Cindy Looy of Berkeley biology, though, has recently begun experimenting with miniature pine trees and may soon have the answer.
Sixty dwarf pines have been collected in a growth chamber and are constantly bombarded with high-intensity UV-B radiation as a form of simulated sunlight. The catch, however, was that the intensity of the light ranged between 7.5 to 13 times the intensity currently felt on Earth, intending to simulate the conditions plants of the Permian period.
What the team found was that the rate of misshapen pollen produced by the plants skyrocketed, being approximately four times higher than plants exposed to no or lower levels of radiation.
Essentially, such high levels of radiation caused the pines to become sterile, which would have greatly disrupted the ecosystem of the time due to lack of food. Additionally, fossilized pollen samples from the same era were strikingly similar to what was observed in the lab.
Though additional experiments would be necessary for a definitive conclusion, this could be cause for alarm should this be found as the reason for the die-off. With our own ozone layer being damaged, it would make reversing the effects of climate change even more dire.
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