Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Biology: New ideas about massive Permian extinction

  1. Aug 22, 2003 #1
    I have read a surprising theory about the massive Permian extinction at http://www.nature.com/nsu/030818/030818-16.html.

    Briefly, Gregory Ryskin of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, argues that a tremendous explosion of the methane dissolved under the seas has caused the extinction.

    Opinions?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 22, 2003 #2
    My opinion is the link doesn't work.

    Think you were looking for this:

    http://www.nature.com/nsu/030818/030818-16.html

    In that case, My first comment is I think it's absurd that that excuse for a scientist says "It might explain the biblical flood". That's like saying he's found evidence that explains The Lord of the Rings. He should be stripped of his credentials and deported.....

    Moving right along, another one makes the comment that this extinction is the "single most important event in Biology". I really doubt that, seeing as how Biology would not exist if life (as we call it) had not risen from non-life.

    Then I saw the quote from the bible. How is a real event supposed to "explain" a fictional event? I'm completely confused - I did not know there was a link between real life and Stephen King's latest thriller.

    My opinions on the hypothesis are that sure it should be looked into and sounds decent enough, but:

    1. It needs to be determined if this methane locale could realistic spread without another natural occurence diminishing it's strength further away from the origin.

    2. Someone needs to get this (non)scientist off the case. He's apparently capable of making up any scientific data just to try to prove the flood.

    :)
     
  4. Aug 22, 2003 #3

    LURCH

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    BF, there is a "Religion" Forum for you to rant about your religious beliefs. Please post your doctrinal statements there. And please leave bigotry out of the site altogether.

    I also would like to see more explanation of how the methane would react to mitigating factors as it propagates away from the source site. Although I seem to remember seeing something of this theory before, and I believe the idea was that when a certain amount of methane from the sea had boiled off, pressures were decreased to such a degree that pockets from all the ocean's floors began to boil as well, making it a non-localised, global phenominon.

    I still have trouble buying it, though. The timing of all the mass extinctions suggests to me that they are resultant from a common, recurring cause. This has lead me to conclude that meteorite impacts at semi-regular intervals caused them all. I must confess it would now take quite a lot of evidence to change my position.

    (Wouldn't you know; now that I've become fairly certain of my position, I've lost my momentum!)
     
  5. Aug 22, 2003 #4
    Lurch - Not to interested in responding, because I get the sense you're not a very welcomed person here. Apparently you have some anti-science sentiments, but attempting to claim science is religion is pretty much in the realm of spam. I wouldn't wanna waste anyone elses time who came here for knowledge and not strangeness.

    Have a good day and shower that chip off your shoulder. :)


     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 22, 2003
  6. Aug 22, 2003 #5

    LURCH

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Personal attacks are also considered unacceptable behavior at this site. Please refer to thesite guidelines.

    Found a link that contains a graph of the major and minor extinction events, but it is important to remember that some of the dates are held in dispute, and the theory itself (known as "periodicity") is not universally accepted.

    Does anyone know if this "methane explosion" theory makes any predictions that could be verified? Seems like such an event would leave chemical markers in sediment, for example. Perhaps such indicators have already been searched for; have any been found? (Other than CO2, that is. It would also be the predicted result of a large fire, or a runaway greenhouse effect.)
     
  7. Aug 23, 2003 #6

    LURCH

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Also, are there any known bioremediation organisms for methane? If such organisms exist, there should be a sudden explosion of their populations immediately following the extinction event.
     
  8. Aug 23, 2003 #7

    iansmith

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    As far as I know, some group of bacteria and archea can use methane as a source of carbon. These bacteria are refered to as methanotrophs. Methanotrophs can be used in biorediation. Methanotrophs can be found closed to anaerobic methane producing microorganism in environment such wetlands, rice pads and marine system. Methanotrophs does not use all the methane produce by

    The problem is how would you find fossil record of bacteria? Maybe genetics can help. Maybe marine methanotrophs have greater diversity and not as closely related to terrestrial methanotrophs.
     
  9. Aug 25, 2003 #8

    Phobos

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    One species' catastrophe is another's opportunity. Thank you K-T event!
     
  10. Aug 26, 2003 #9

    Another God

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member

    It seems to me as if metero impacts would be the least periodicic... meh...periodical phenomenon of the list wouldn't it? I mean, the only way I could think of meteor strikes being periodical woul dbe based on some solar phenomenon of the earth moving through an asteroid belt or something once every x thousand years. Now even if this happened, then the event would only have a chance of occuring every x thousand years, but in fact miss one or two here and there.

    I would say that a Methane Build up style of Mass Extinction is a much more likely periodicity based phenomenon.

    (Not that I really have a valid opinion on either...this is entirely based on the periodicity concept.)
     
  11. Aug 26, 2003 #10

    LURCH

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Glad you made that last statement. And, at the risk of seeming redundant, I'll say it again; Periodicity is a highly debated concept and there may be no truth to it at all.

    However, if it is correct, then the reasons I say meteor impacts are the most likely candidates are:

    1) We have fairly good evidence that at least one mass extinction was caused by an impact event (the "K-T Killer"). So if all have the same cause...'nough said.

    2) The periods (as shown on the chart at the link I posted earlier) coincide with the gallactic orbit of our Solar System. As you may already know, the Solar System is currently at a point in it's orbit around the gallaxy that puts us well "below" the gallactic plane. We are sort of "out in empty space", so to speak. In about 50-52 million yrs, we'll be here again (barring serious incident). In about 25 or 26 million yrs, we will be on the far side of the gallaxy, and roughly as far "above" the gallactic plane as we are now "below" it. During the time in between, we will pass through the most densely populated part of the Milky Way (or, of our neighborhood of it, anyhow). Here, there is much greater probability of gravitational disturbance of our star system, and things are much more likely to get jarred out of place. This area of greater gravitational turbulance is a realm through which we pass about every 26 million yrs, the same timescale on which mass extinctions are proposed to occur. This coinciding timetable suggests to me a causal relationship.
     
  12. Aug 27, 2003 #11

    Another God

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member

    OK, that is reasonable enough. If we are moving through 'Stuff' for millions of years, then thats reasonable i guess.
     
  13. Aug 27, 2003 #12

    ahrkron

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member

    Besides, a lot of stuff is supposed to be orbiting the sun much farther than Pluto (or Neptune) [the Oort cloud, I think it's called].

    The small gravitational disturbances produced on the system when it crosses the galactic plane may be enough to throw many of those objects towards the inner solar system.
     
  14. Sep 2, 2003 #13

    Phobos

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    First, there's the Kuiper Belt which contains Pluto-like objects (only smaller). Then, after that, is the Oort cloud, which contains long-period (i.e., infrequently seen from Earth) comets.

    At that distance (Oort Cloud), gravity from the sun is so weak, that the slightest nudge (gravitational or otherwise) can alter the path of those objects.
     
  15. Sep 6, 2003 #14
    From the little I know about this theory I like it. It seems much more plausiblr than the theories suggesting a meteorite or asteriod impact, there just isn't enough evidence to support those theories. The eveidence that I have heard about suggest the Permian extinction occured over an extended geological time frame, say 10 to 20 thousand years. I can't see a meteorite or asteroid impact causing extinction over that extended period of time. The combination of large scale volcanic episodes and a mass methane release I can however see working over 10 to 20 thousand years. And there does seem to be evidence that suggests just such a large scale volcanic episode at the right time. It is likely that one event lead to the other as well, and I think a recent theory suggests that the volcanic episodes caused a rise in global temperature, and this allowed methane to be released from ocean beds, causing a further rise in temerature.

    (I admit most of my knowledge comes from popular science shows, so I can't be sure how accurate the research is). But since I've finished uni, and this topic has sparked my interest i think I may start reading into it. :smile:
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?



Similar Discussions: Biology: New ideas about massive Permian extinction
  1. The New Biology (Replies: 3)

Loading...