The scientists have been analysing fossils to determine the best way to make it through such a defining period as a collective species. They have studied animals which survived through one of the most catastrophic events in history, and learnt how to come through the other side. Some 250 million years ago, two massive volcanoes in Siberia erupted, propelling billions of tons of carbon into the atmosphere and drastically altering the Earth’s climate.
As a result, a mass extinction, known as the Permo-Triassic Mass Extinction, occurred, wiping out the majority of the animal kingdom. However, some animals survived and even thrived in the ensuing atmosphere, which has baffled experts as to how. By studying fossils of an early Triassic Lystrosaurus, experts have managed to reveal how some beings managed to make it through the disaster.
Analysis of the fossils showed that ancient mammals were able to adapt and evolve extremely quickly to drastic climate change as they would reproduce earlier in life, and die younger.
Adam Huttenlocker of the Natural History Museum of Utah at the University of Utah, another author of the paper, said: “It has been predicted that half of mammal species could become extinct by the end of the next century if present patterns continue; that's more than 1,000 times greater than previous estimates of natural extinctions, a trend not seen since the End-Permian or End-Cretaceous extinctions.”
Dr Angielczyk continued: ”With the world currently facing its sixth mass extinction, paleontological research helps us understand the world around us today. "By studying how animals like Lystrosaurus adapted in the face of disaster, we can better predict how looming environmental changes may affect modern species.”