It makes for a dramatic narrative: Roughly 252 million years ago, a mass extinction event killed up to 96 percent of marine life, earning an infamous name in the geologic record, "the Great Dying." However, a new study suggests that this cataclysmic event has been overestimated. In the February issue of EARTH Magazine, read how a University of Hawaii paleontologist is improving our understanding of mass extinction events by exploring the effects of natural variability on background extinction levels, revealing a clearer signal in the noise.
As we celebrate National Fossil Day, EARTH Magazine brings you a story set in Pleistocene South America, and was home to large megafauna species like giant sloths and saber-toothed cats. At some point as the climate warmed and human settlers began hunting, the megafauna living in Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego went extinct.