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The Permian–Triassic (P–T, P–Tr)[3][4] extinction event, also known as the End-Permian Extinction[5] and colloquially as the Great Dying,[6] formed the boundary between the Permian and Triassic geologic periods, as well as between the Paleozoic and Mesozoic eras, approximately 251.9 million years ago.[7] It is the Earth's most severe known extinction event,[8] with the extinction of 57% of biological families, 83% of genera, 81% of marine species[9][10][11] and 70% of terrestrial vertebrate species.[12] It was the largest known mass extinction of insects.

Marine extinction intensity during the Phanerozoic
Millions of years ago
Plot of extinction intensity (percentage of marine genera that are present in each interval of time but do not exist in the following interval) vs time in the past.[1] Geological periods are annotated (by abbreviation and colour) above. The Permian–Triassic extinction event is the most significant event for marine genera, with just over 50% (according to this source) perishing. (source and image info)
Permian–Triassic boundary at Frazer Beach in New South Wales, with the End Permian extinction event located just above the coal layer.[2]

There is evidence for one to three distinct pulses, or phases, of extinction.[13][12][14][15][16]

The scientific consensus is that the main cause of extinction was the large amount of carbon dioxide emitted by the volcanic eruptions that created the Siberian Traps, which elevated global temperatures, and in the oceans led to widespread anoxia and acidification.[17] Proposed contributing factors include: the emission of much additional carbon dioxide from the thermal decomposition of hydrocarbon deposits, including oil and coal, triggered by the eruptions; and emissions of methane by novel methanogenic microorganisms, perhaps nourished by minerals dispersed in the eruptions.[18][19]

The speed of recovery from the extinction is disputed. Some scientists estimate that it took 10 million years (until the Middle Triassic), due both to the severity of the extinction and because grim conditions returned periodically for another 5 million years,[20] causing further extinction events, such as the Smithian-Spathian boundary extinction.[8][21] However, studies in Bear Lake County, near Paris, Idaho,[22] and nearby sites in Idaho and Nevada[23] showed a relatively quick rebound in a localized Early Triassic marine ecosystem, taking around 3 million years to recover, suggesting that the impact of the extinction may have been felt less severely in some areas than in others.

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