Prehistoric Creatures Unit Study - Lesson 5: Paleozoic Mass Extinction Event

Lesson 5: End of the Paleozoic Era.

After creating a basic timeline of Earth's history and learning about the wealth of life which flourished during the Paleozoic Era, we learned what brought the Paleozoic Era to its end.

The Paleozoic period of evolution was brought to a close with a mass extinction event which lasted over 100,000 years. Massive volcanic eruptions, known as flood basalt eruptions, took place in Siberia. The eruptions released sulfur dioxide gas into the atmosphere which mixed with water causing acid rain. The acid rain lead to a series of volcanic winters which caused the food system to collapse. As if that wasn't bad enough, the carbon dioxide released by the volcanoes then caused the Earth to warm. The warming resulted in altered global weather patterns. In addition, the warm air caused the ocean temperatures to rise eventually causing them to stop circulating. This created a lack of oxygen in the seas which in turn resulted in numerous creatures becoming extinct.

Catastrophe, is a video series which focuses on mass extinction events. Episode 3 focuses on the extinction which occurred at the end of the Paleozoic Era described above.

To see our earlier Evolution Unit Study Lessons please visit our Science Page.

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