DISCLAIMER: This article is being kept online for historical purposes. Though accurate at last review, it is no longer being updated. The page may contain broken links or outdated information.
Extinction and the fossil record
McGuire, Jenny L. School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington.
- Past extinctions
- Sixth mass extinction?
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
The Earth contains an incredible diversity of species that are important for maintaining a functional, healthy world. There are an estimated 8.7 million species living on Earth today (about 1.3 million of them have been documented by scientists), but these species represent only 1% of the species that have lived on the Earth since life originated approximately 3.5 billion years ago. Ninety-nine of every 100 species that have ever lived on Earth are extinct. Extinctions have occurred relatively constantly through time, punctuated by several periods of severe and relatively rapid extinction events. Paleontologists and conservation biologists have realized that these past extinctions can provide much information about the events that are occurring today and the extent of their impact on global biodiversity. By putting modern-day extinctions in the context of the rates and magnitudes of past extinctions, it is possible to understand the types of events that can lead to devastating biodiversity loss.
The content above is only an excerpt.
for your institution. Subscribe
To learn more about subscribing to AccessScience, or to request a no-risk trial of this award-winning scientific reference for your institution, fill in your information and a member of our Sales Team will contact you as soon as possible.
to your librarian. Recommend
Let your librarian know about the award-winning gateway to the most trustworthy and accurate scientific information.
AccessScience provides the most accurate and trustworthy scientific information available.
Recognized as an award-winning gateway to scientific knowledge, AccessScience is an amazing online resource that contains high-quality reference material written specifically for students. Contributors include more than 9000 highly qualified scientists and 43 Nobel Prize winners.
MORE THAN 8700 articles covering all major scientific disciplines and encompassing the McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science & Technology and McGraw-Hill Yearbook of Science & Technology
115,000-PLUS definitions from the McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific and Technical Terms
3000 biographies of notable scientific figures
MORE THAN 19,000 downloadable images and animations illustrating key topics
ENGAGING VIDEOS highlighting the life and work of award-winning scientists
SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER STUDY and additional readings to guide students to deeper understanding and research
LINKS TO CITABLE LITERATURE help students expand their knowledge using primary sources of information