posted on Jan, 15 2005 @ 05:07 PM
In terms of natural disasters, the Cretaceous/Tertiary and -- even more -- the Permian/Triassic die-offs were real Mothers, all right; but I think
both of them pale into insignificance to the one in the Archaeozoic, where something caused the reducing atmosphere of the Earth to become
contaminated with a deadly corrosive poison which killed off every living thing with the exception of a few organisms who actually metabolized the
corrosive - and a few survivors who became the ancestors of today's anaerobic bacteria.
The corrosive poison, of course, was oxygen.
But none of them were in fact Human history.
I'd say the most catastrophic event in human history, given all the ramifications which followed, was the felsic supervolcano explosion in 535 AD
which actually split Java and Sumatra into two islands.
The eruption, tsunami, and 'volcanic winter' which followed can be considered a causative of the breakdown of many different cultures worldwide, the
kick-start for the first of the Bubonic Plagues, the horse die-off which led the Azars onto their westward trek which ultimately spelled the end of
the Roman Empire, and so on.
This story is well-researched and told in David Keys' "Catastrophe: an Investigation into the Origins of the Modern World" (Ballantine,
1999). If you're intersted in such things, I'd really recommend adding the book to your library, along with both the Jared Diamond books.