The Permian mass extinction has been nicknamed The Great Dying, since a staggering 96% of species died out. All life on Earth today is descended from the 4% of species that survived. The event turns out to have been complex, as there were at least two separate phases of extinction spread over millions of years. Marine creatures were particularly badly affected and insects suffered the only mass extinction of their history. Many causes have been proposed for the event: asteroid impact, flood basalt eruptions, catastrophic methane release, a drop in oxygen levels, sea level fluctuations or some combination of these.
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