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Single Microbe May Have Triggered the "Great Dying" 171

An anonymous reader writes with an excerpt from Medical Daily about a new theory for what triggered the "Great Dying: " "Researchers believe that they may finally know why the event occurred, but the theory is not without controversy. There are several theories, including the possibility of a meteorite hitting the planet. Previously, most researchers believed that the Permian mass extinction was a result of a series of volcanic eruptions in what is now Siberia. ... However, Daniel Rothman from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is floating around a different theory. As he presented in a meeting for the American Geophysical Union, he believes that the mass extinction could have been caused by something much smaller. His theory is that the extinction was caused by a single strain of bacteria."
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Single Microbe May Have Triggered the "Great Dying"

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  • Cofactor F430 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by epine ( 68316 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @08:27AM (#42324193)

    Cofactor F430 []

    Forget the organism. This is about the advent of a novel reaction pathway, that scales on the availability of nickel. Surprisingly, geology might have something to say on that score. Any vigorous reaction pathway that bubbles madly away at an oceanic scale is almost certain to colour the infrared signature of our thin gas membrane. Imagine if everyone on the planet had an F430.

    There's a lot to like about this hypothesis. I've seen worse. To determine exactly how this pathway becomes prolific at global scale would take decades of further study. It's as yet a humble beginning, of the kind that sometimes pans out.

  • by Muad'Dave ( 255648 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @08:54AM (#42324297) Homepage

    PLEASE - let's not have any more articles from until they stop firing off 2 OR MORE auto-playing videos at the same time on every article.

  • by Chrisq ( 894406 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @09:41AM (#42324651)
    If this is correct it is the second time an organism has wiped out most existing life forms The Great Oxygenation Event [] is thought to have killed most existing forms of life - then single-celled organisms. It makes you wonder, could it happen again - a bacteria completely changing Earth's chemistry in a way that's incompatible with most existing life forms?
  • Re:Jay Gould (again) (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @09:49AM (#42324715)

    Jay Gould is not a supporter of traditional evolution theory. He supports the punctuated equilibrium based upon evidence in the fossil record. The basic idea is that animals do not gradually adapt to an environement. Instead, some mutant freak for some reason becomes dominant in an area. This is often because of a radical change in that environment. Richard Dawkins highly opposes these views: despite the significant evidence Gould produced, it cannot prove that traditional evolution did not occur for the same reason that no one can prove there is no God.

  • Re:H.G. Wells (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mfnickster ( 182520 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @11:25AM (#42325703)

    I'll see your Wells and raise you a Watts:

    "Let me tell you what happens if this thing gets out," she said quietly. "First off, nothing. We outnumber it, you see. At first we swamp it through sheer numbers, the models predict all sorts of skirmishes and false starts. But eventually it gets a foothold. Then it outcompetes conventional decomposers and monopolizes our inorganic nutrient base. That cuts the whole trophic pyramid off at the ankles. You, and me, and the viruses and the giant sequoias all just fade away for want of nitrates or some stupid thing. And welcome to the Age of Behemoth."

Forty two.