If the situation on our planet today does not seemyou are somewhat intimidating, then it's time to change your point of view. Last year, several scientific articles on the sixth mass extinction of wildlife were released, which we told you about. Recently, researchers published a paper in the journal Scientific Reports, in which they cited strong evidence that mass extinction has already begun. In order to come to such a conclusion, scientists paid close attention to the events of the distant past, when life on Earth almost died out.
What secrets do coral reefs hide?
At first glance, a new study mayseem incomprehensible, intended only for other specialists. The work includes a comparison of modern corals with their ancient counterparts. However, the revealed data showed terrible parallels between the fate of modern species and those that disappeared along with dinosaurs. Why are creepy? Because what happens to corals today seems to have happened 65 million years ago. Coral reefs, home to a huge variety of fish and other marine life, have been destroyed by ocean warming associated with climate change. Over the past 30 years, more than half of the world's reefs have died. The results of the study showed that coral species that discolor and die are strikingly similar to those that disappeared during the last mass extinction 65 million years ago.
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Corals are perfect for “then andnow, "because their hard skeletons leave a constant, time-honored fossil. In the course of their work, scientists studied 839 corals from the Red Book. The team began by identifying the common features of several coral species that survived the last major extinction. Then they scanned modern corals in search of these traits.
As a result, the researchers found thatthe colorful wavy corals that are most vulnerable today resemble those that have died out in the past. Equally indicative were the modern flourishing corals - those that form small colonies. Researchers note that these are the same corals that "jumped" the extinction boundary millions of years ago and survived.
How many mass extinctions were there?
There have been five major extinctions in the history of the Earth. Over the past 150 years, the pace of extinction has steadily accelerated. Last year, the landmark report of the IPBS Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform was published. In the report, researchers write that the planet is already losing sight at an alarming rate. And with recent forest fires in the Amazon and Australia, this figure could be much worse. But no matter how dramatic the extinction crisis may be, on the scale of human time it is barely noticeable, like a delayed car accident. This study is the first to compare modern species on the verge of extinction with those that have disappeared along with dinosaurs. The work testifies to the beginning of what many biologists have called the "sixth mass extinction."
Good news from the study, at leastfor sentimental marine biologists, it is that some corals are likely to be among the hardy creatures that survive the sixth extinction. Mass extinctions weed out life, but do not destroy it. Not everything disappears, scientists say. Several million years pass, and everything returns to normal, but in a completely different way. But whether people will survive, one can only guess.