Re: History and Goals (for TE)

Glenn R. Morton (
Sat, 20 Jun 1998 17:03:23 -0500

At 04:36 PM 6/20/98 -0400, David Campbell wrote:
>There is probably more support for the role of catastrophes in introducing
>unpredictability. Any evolutionist (i.e., someone who accepts a large role
>for evolution in the creation of living organisms) agrees that there is no
>way organisms could have prepared for an asteroid impact or similar events,
>so the effects are not easily predictable. On the one hand, some people
>seem to give catastrophes and extreme role (Raup had a general-audience
>book along these lines), whereas others see them as merely hastening the
>replacement of less competitive forms with more successful ones.

the following:

"The new results, reported on page 1039, show that a shift in the ratio of
carbon isotopes recorded in marine rocks-an event intimately tied to the
extinctions-lasted perhaps as little as 10,000 years.' It's the final nail
in the coffin of those who say the extinction was prolonged,' says
paleontologist Paul Wignall of the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom.
"The telltale rocks, near the village of Meishan in southern China, are
beds of ancient marine sediments that record the disappearance of marine
animals and, at the same time, a huge spike in the ratio of carbon-13 to
carbon-12. . . .
The team's dates showed that the isotopic drop and a partial recovery took
165,000 years at most, and possibly as few as 10,000 years." ~ Richard A.
Kerr, "Biggest Extinction Looks Catastrophic," Science, 280(1998):1007

It would appear that the major extinction at the end of the Permian may
have been almost instantaneous (at least geologically speaking.


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