Some Good News About the Worst Mass Extinction in Earth’s History

If the fact that the Earth is careening toward a sixth mass extinction event makes you uncomfortable, good news: it turns out, the biosphere may have rebounded “quickly” after the worst mass extinction in history. That, at least, is the implication of one remarkable fossil assemblage formed less than 2 million years after the so-called Great Dying. Read More >>

Our Atmosphere Is Leaking Oxygen and Scientists Don’t Know Why

It’s nothing to lose sleep over—really, I promise—but Earth’s atmosphere is leaking oxygen. Atmospheric oxygen levels have dropped by 0.7 per cent over the past 800,000 years, and while scientists aren’t sure why, they’re rather excited about it. Read More >>

There Is A Lot Of Confusion About What Geologic Epoch We’re In

For the record, planet Earth is still in the Holocene. Read More >>

Maybe We Don’t Have to Nuke Mars (So Much) After All

Terraforming Mars could be our only option once we screw this planet up beyond repair, but how exactly are we going to do it? One popular scheme involves releasing truckloads of nuclear warheads over the poles, unlocking billions of tons of frozen carbon dioxide and triggering a runaway greenhouse. Read More >>

This Atmospheric Time Capsule Could Change Earth’s History

Buried inside ancient grains of rock salt, a team of geologists has discovered traces of a breathable, animal-friendly atmosphere. If confirmed, the finding will push back the rise of oxygen on Earth hundreds of millions of years, raising new questions about the evolution of complex life both here and beyond our solar system. Read More >>

Mysterious Moon Scars Could Rewrite Earth’s History

Four billion years ago, an endless barrage of space rock pummelled the surface of the Earth and the Moon in a period known as the Late Heavy Bombardment. Now, astronomers have performed a detailed analysis of one of the most famous craters from that time, and what they’ve learned could rewrite the most violent chapter in Earth’s history. Read More >>

Astronomers Might Have Just Solved a Key Mystery About the Origin of Life

If a massive solar storm struck the Earth today, it could wipe out our technology and hurl us back to the dark ages. Lucky for us, events like this are quite rare. But four billion years ago, extreme space weather was probably the norm. And rather than bringing the apocalypse, it might have kickstarted life. Read More >>

This Might Be the Weirdest Thing That’s Ever Happened to Earth’s Atmosphere

Life has been transforming Earth’s atmosphere since the first single-celled organisms evolved. But few instances of atmospheric terraforming compare with what went down 2.7 billion years ago, when air pressure seems to have plummeted to less than half of its current value. What could have caused the worldwide depressurisation? According to a new hypothesis, the culprit was nitrogen-hungry microbes. Read More >>

The Future Happened 56 Million Years Ago

History has a way of repeating itself. Humans are currently conducting a grand experiment with Earth’s climate, but the outcome of that experiment may be foretold. According to Penn State climate scientist Richard Alley, the future—or a somewhat diluted version of it—happened 55.9 million years ago. Read More >>

How to Survive a Mass Extinction

If we want to know what sorts of creatures will survive the next mass extinction, the best place to look is the fossil record. After examining the bones of Lystrosaurus, a vertebrate that famously thrived during the worst apocalypse in the history of life on Earth, a team of paleontologists think they know how it managed to adapt. Read More >>

It Looks Like Climate Change Drove These Giant Marine Reptiles To Extinction

A hundred million years ago, ichthyosaurs—massive marine reptiles that look like a dolphin mated with a fish—ruled Earth’s oceans. But nearly 30 million years before the extinction of the dinosaurs, these majestic predators vanished. It wasn’t an asteroid that killed the ichthyosaurs, so what did? Read More >>

Scientists Will Finally Drill Into the Dinosaur-Killing Impact Crater in Mexico

Sixty-six million years ago, planet Earth had a shit day when a six-mile-wide asteroid smashed into the Yucatán Peninsula, triggering a series of events that killed off the dinosaurs. Later this month, a scientific expedition will drill into the heart of Chicxulub crater for the very first time, seeking to learn more about the nature of that disaster. Read More >>