China key to solving riddle of extinction
The riddle of the greatest extinction of life on Earth will likely be solved
in China, Wei Jiayong, a Chinese geologist, predicted yesterday.
geologists from Britain, Australia, Germany and the United States have made spot
inspections at a mountainous area in Luodian County in southwestern China's
Guizhou Province, hoping to find evidence for the mass extinction 250 million
years ago among fossils from the late Permian and early Triassic
There have been six mass extinctions on Earth. Among them, the most
massive and influential was the extinction that occurred at the end of the
Permian Period some 250 million years ago, when more than 90 percent of marine
life perished in a short period of time. Only a small amount of primitive life
The precise cause of that extinction remains a mystery.
Loudian County, frequented by Chinese and foreign geologists, the core area
called Big Guizhou Shoal is praised as a "treasure land for Triassic Period
Geologists have found that prior to the Permian extinction, the
Earth experienced a major environmental change. However, areas around the Big
Guizhou Shoal were barely affected.
Mike Orchard, president of the Triassic
stratum department of the International Commission on Stratigraphy, said, "A
variety of factors conspired toward the Permian extinction. China has provided
unique fossils for research in this case and has made productive research in
Orchard was speaking at the 4th International Symposium on
Cambrian System, which opened yesterday in Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu
Paleontologists from 21 countries and regions have gathered again
after a 15-year "recess."
The third Cambrian symposium was held in 1990 in
the former Soviet Union.
According to Professor Peng Shanchi with the
Research Institute of Geology and Paleontology under the Chinese Academy of
Sciences, holding the five-day symposium in China is an indication that the
Chinese Cambrian system paleontology is respected by the