extinction News

Do mass extinctions happen every 26 million years or so?

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It’s worth looking at.

Recently, we looked at how new findings support a rethink of the mass extinction 250 million years ago.
The rethink itself might be minor (land vs. sea timetables). The main thing to see is that each new piece added to the puzzle replaces neat theory and assumption with messy fact. Theory can no longer sustain itself by strategies such as “Darwinism is the only known theory that is in principle capable of explaining certain aspects of life. (p. 287, Blind Watchmaker, 1986)”

Maybe not.

Maybe after a while, no one cares how the theorists will bail themselves out of their latest mess.

Meanwhile, from the Atlantic:

The Chilling Regularity of Mass Extinctions

Now, a pair of researchers have new evidence to support a link between cyclical comet showers and mass extinctions, including the one that they believe wiped out the dinosaurs 66 million years ago. Michael Rampino, a geologist at New York University, and Ken Caldeira, an atmospheric scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science, traced 260 million years of mass extinctions and found a familiar pattern: Every 26 million years, there were huge impacts and major die-offs. Their work was accepted by the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society in September.

In recent decades, researchers using other methods have found evidence for a 26-million-year cycle of extinction on Earth, but the idea has remained controversial and unexplained. “I believe that our study, using revised dating of extinctions and craters, and a new method of spectral analysis, is strong evidence for the cycles,” Rampino told me.

And while scientists can’t be sure when the next major comet or asteroid impact on Earth will be, the one that is believed to have killed the dinosaurs still stands out as extraordinary, even by mass-extinction standards. The city-sized asteroid that created Chicxulub, for instance, released more energy than 1 billion nuclear bombs when it hit the Earth. More.

If the evidence shows that mass extinctions are mainly caused by catastrophic extraterrestrial events, that’s another blow for Darwinism (natural selection acting on random mutation generates huge levels of information, not noise).

Adaptation, as opposed to extinction, in such a case is a matter of chance on the level that makes Darwin’s natural selection and sexual selection irrelevant.

After all, Darwinian theory is properly (indeed necessarily) modelled on ecologies that behave normally. What life forms would survive a massive asteroid hit and how they would later develop is a conundrum almost on the same level as the origin of life.

That said, the intensity of Chicxulub helps us understand why all dinosaurs apparently died out. Most extinctions are a bit more sparing.

But we shall see. This is the age of history, not theory!

See also: Talk to the fossils: Let’s see what they say back

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