Science

The 6th Extinction Event: Man, Despite its Numbers, doesn’t have the Survival Advantage

Man believes he’s invincible, but we rely on technology too much to keep us safe and comfortable. When will this be enough to counter the forces of nature when the next extinction event strikes? We know how powerful nature is. Nothing that man has ever invented is able to withstand it. Will man never learn, or does man not care because, anyway, this generation won’t be around when the cataclysm comes for the sixth time around.

Do we also think we have enough numbers to withstand it? Who knows, maybe by the time the extinction event comes, we’ll have the numbers to offset the effect, say 20 billion humans? But according to the latest study, the numbers are immaterial; whether we’re too many or too few, nothing will survive the 6th extinction level.

In spite of populating large areas of the planet and allocating vast sums of natural resources with the specific end goal of surviving, man doesn’t have a better chance of surviving a mass extinction compared to endangered species, researchers say.

A group from the University of Leeds looking at the impacts of mass extinctions found that, overall, all species are generally as prone as less populous ones to end up extinct in such an event.

This stands out from standard circumstances, where a crowded species is more prone to survive than the rare or endangered one.

The group of researchers analyzed the fossil records of vertebrates from the Triassic and Jurassic periods – 252 to 145 million years back. Amid this period, a mass extinction thought to have been brought on by a volcanism wiped out around 80 percent of every living species and gave rise to the dinosaurs.

Researchers Alex Dunhill and Matthew Wills examined distributions of species and the ways they changed amid the time periods. They then contrasted their outcomes with the changes general biodiversity and assembled data on how likely a species is to become extinct.

Image: http://cdn.phys.org/