It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.
Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.
Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.
With surprising and mysterious regularity, life on Earth has flourished and vanished in cycles of mass extinction every 62 million years, say two UC Berkeley scientists who discovered the pattern after a painstaking computer study of fossil records going back for more than 500 million years.
Their findings are certain to generate a renewed burst of speculation among scientists who study the history and evolution of life. Each period of abundant life and each mass extinction has itself covered at least a few million years -- and the trend of biodiversity has been rising steadily ever since the last mass extinction, when dinosaurs and millions of other life forms went extinct about 65 million years ago.
The Earth may be on the brink of a sixth mass extinction on a par with the five others that have punctuated its history, suggests the strongest evidence yet.
Butterflies in Britain are going extinct at an even greater rate than birds, according to the most comprehensive study ever of butterflies, birds, and plants.
There is growing concern over the rate at which species of plants and animals are disappearing around the world. But until now the evidence for such extinctions has mainly come from studies of birds. "The doubters could always turn around and say that there's something peculiar about birds that makes them susceptible to the impact of man on the environment," says Jeremy Greenwood of the British Trust for Ornithology in Norfolk, and one of the research team.
Now there is concrete evidence that insects - which account for more than half the described species on Earth, are disappearing faster than birds.
The phrase mass extinction usually brings to mind events sparked by dramatic environmental change, such as the asteroid impact that led to the demise of the dinosaurs and many other species 65 million years ago. In fact, five such large-scale extinctions have been identified in the fossil record, and according to findings presented on Friday at the annual meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology in Mexico City, another is under way.
(CNN) -- The complex web of life on Earth, what scientists call "biodiversity," is in serious trouble.
Seven out of 10 biologists believe the world is now in the midst of the fastest mass extinction of living things in the 4.5 billion-year history of the planet, according to a poll conducted by the American Museum of Natural History and the Louis Harris survey research firm.
That makes it faster even than the crash which occurred when the dinosaurs died some 65 million years ago.
Remember the dinosaurs? Kings of the hill for 150 million years, then phttt, gone, poster animals of mass extinction. There have actually been five mass extinctions in the Earth's past — and we're well on our way to number six, says Peter Raven, an expert in plant conservation.
Scientists have produced the first comprehensive evidence that the diversity of butterflies, birds and plants is in decline in the UK. They say their research supports the argument that mass extinction threatens life on Earth.
The world's species face an unprecedented crisis. The rate at which they are being lost is alarming, even when compared with the extinction episode of 70 million years ago when the dinosaurs disappeared. No-one knows exactly what the current extinction rate is, but recent calculations by leading scientists put it at between 1,000 and 10,000 times greater than it would naturally be.
A report by two international scientific groups says global wildlife faces the greatest extinction risk since the dinosaurs disappeared.
Is the biosphere today on the verge of anything like the mass extinctions of the geological past? Could some equivalent of meteorite impacts or dramatic climate change be underway, as humankind's rapid destruction of natural habitats forces animals and plants out of existence?
Increasingly, researchers are doing the numbers, and saying, yes, if present trends continue, a mass extinction is very likely underway. The evidence is pieced together from details drawn from all over the world, but it adds up to a disturbing picture.
Research has revealed that the rise and fall of species on Earth seems to be driven by the undulating motions of our solar system as it travels through the Milky Way. Some scientists believe that this cosmic force may offer the answer to some of the biggest questions in our Earth’s biological history—especially where evolution has fallen short.
Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley found that marine fossil records show that biodiversity increases and decreases based on a 62-million-year cycle. At least two of the Earth's great mass extinctions-the Permian extinction 250 million years ago and the Ordovician extinction about 450 million years ago-correspond with peaks of this cycle, which can't be explained by evolutionary theory.
Early last year, a team of researchers at the University of Kansas came up with an out-of-this-world explanation for the phenomenon. Their idea hinges upon the fact that stars move through space and sometimes rush headlong through galaxies, or approach closely enough to cause a brief cosmic tryst.
Our own star moves toward and away from the Milky Way's center, and also up and down through the galactic plane. One complete up-and-down cycle takes 64 million years- suspiciously close to the Earth's biodiversity cycle.
Once the researchers independently confirmed the biodiversity cycle, they then proposed a novel mechanism whereby which the Sun's galactic travels is causing it.
As the Earth’s solar system travels around the center of the Milky Way galaxy, it also wobbles up and down from the galaxy’s disc. U.S. scientists found that these swings take about 62 million years to complete—thus, may expose the Earth to higher doses of dangerous cosmic ray that may also cause mass extinctions.
Originally posted by greshnik
Obviously, those who believe in evolution theory, always like to use "carbon dating" as a confirmed scientific method, which it IS NOT. "Evolution theory" is just another religion, more widespread than any other.
The viruses that make us:
a role for endogenous retrovirus in the evolution of placental species
We currently think of a virus as an agent that necessarily reduce host fitness and generally cause disease, together with other pathogenic microorganisms, such as bacteria and fungi. ...viruses can also invent systems of molecular genetic identity and superimpose a new combined identity onto the infected host. In so doing, a virus can allow the host itself to adapt to the environment and evolve quickly, providing a creative force that the host may further develop into systems of identity and immunity that can contribute directly to host evolution.
...the genomes of placental mammals are also highly infected with retroviruses found only in their genomes (endogenous) and because retroviruses are generally immunosuppressive, I examine the possibility that the embryo is acting like an infectious agent that produces virus to suppress the mother's immune system.
...parasitic viral-like genomes may represent one of the primary mechanisms for the evolution of higher order living systems.
Originally posted by ItsallCrazy
reply to post by CHA0S
I think you're right this is big news, but to be honest I think people need more of a slap in the face to get them to notice something rather than a very long drawn out eventuality.
Originally posted by Winsor
Scary stuff. Reminds me of all the talk about bees disappearing I heard about last year. Probably nothing we can do to prevent it now. Maybe if the governments of the world had focused on important things like the condition of our planet, the things living on it, and science for reasons other than war technologies, maybe we could have found away out of this. But instead the world focuses on useless drivel, like war, money, and reality tv.
Adrian Melott and his colleague Mikhail Medvedev, speculate that as the Milky Way rushes towards the Virgo Cluster, it generates a so-called bow shock in front of it that is similar to the shock wave created by a supersonic jet.
"Our solar system has a shock wave around it, and it produces a good quantity of the cosmic rays that hit the Earth. Why shouldn't the galaxy have a shock wave, too?" Melott asks.
Normally, our galaxy's magnetic field shields our solar system from this "galactic wind." But every 64 million years, the solar system's cyclical travels take it above the galactic plane.
"When we emerge out of the disk, we have less protection, so we become exposed to many more cosmic rays," Melott has said.
Originally posted by CHA0S
I think the dinosaurs actually got hit with a few small natural disasters, such as volcanic eruptions, and this coupled with the comet, caused such huge extinction levels (I think that's the accepted theory?). But why is there such a prominent 65 million year cycle being seen? We as humans are acting like volcanic eruptions, we are erupting all over the place, and spewing out more and more harmful substances that destroy the ecosystem. I think though, that there is something big every 65 million years, and if you couple this with other things, such as what we are doing to the Earth, absolute devastation of most species will occur.
I personally think there is a 65 million year cycle as to when we pass through the galactic belt, although I'm not sure if scientists have an estimation for how long this takes. I assume that in the galactic belt, where 90% of the galaxy's mass is located, there are extremely high chances of being hit by a comet or meteorite...or what ever you want to call big chunks of rock zipping through space...and I also think all the extra mass around our galaxy creates gravitational disturbances that could lead to Jupiter and other planets becoming not so good shields for Earth. I think scientists are already seeing all sorts of anomalies in the orbits of satellites and planets, although I'm not to sure as to how true this is either.
[edit on 4/3/09 by CHA0S]
[edit on 4/3/09 by CHA0S]