Enjoy today because we may have only 16 million years left

Mass extinctions strike the Earth every 27 million years:

Over the last 500 million years or so, life on Earth has been threatened on many occasions; the fossil record is littered with extinction events. What’s curious about these events is that they seem to occur with alarming regularity….

Adrian Melott at the University of Kansas and Richard Bambach at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC… have brought together a massive set of extinction data from the last 500 million years, a period that is twice as long as anybody else has studied. And their analysis shows an excess of extinctions every 27 million years, with a confidence level of 99%….

The last extinction event in this chain happened 11 million years ago so, in theory at least, we have plenty of time to work out where the next catastrophe is coming from.

Posted by James on Tuesday, July 13, 2010