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When Life Nearly Died: When Life Nearly Died
: Michael J. Benton
: Thames & Hudson
: 2015
: 22,5
: / English

Today it is common knowledge that the dinosaurs were wiped out by a meteorite impact 65 million years ago that killed half of all species then living. It is far less widely understood that a much greater catastrophe took place at the end of the Permian period 251 million years ago: at least ninety percent of life on earth was destroyed.

When Life Nearly Died documents not only what happened during this gigantic mass extinction but also the recent renewal of the idea of catastrophism: the theory that changes in the earths crust were brought about suddenly in the past by phenomena that cannot be observed today. Was the end-Permian event caused by the impact of a huge meteorite or comet, or by prolonged volcanic eruption in Siberia? The evidence has been accumulating, and Michael J. Benton gives his verdict at the end of the volume.

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