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When pigs ruled the Earth

My good friend and colleague at the University of Bristol, Sarda Sahney and our supervisor Mike Benton recently published a paper on the extinction and recovery of terrestrial ecosystems at the Permo-Triass boundary.

Here's her blog about it:
Fish Feet

Here's the University of Bristol news on it:
http://www.bristol.ac.uk/news/2008/5785.html

And here's the actual paper at the Royal Society:
http://journals.royalsociety.org/content/qq5un1810k7605h5/

The PT extinction is often called the 'mother of all extinctions' and wiped out some 90% of life on Earth. The junior author of this paper (though hardly the junior) Mike Benton wrote a book about the whole thing a few years back titled 'When Life Nearly Died'. About a third of his book's about the history of the PT extinction studies, another third about his excursions in Russia and the rest is the extinction event itself - well, maybe this is a bit overexaggerated and maybe had a bit more on the extinction event than I give credit - but in any case, an interesting read.

As Sarda mentions on her blog, after the extinction, there were very low diversities and terrestrial communities were long dominated by disaster taxa such as the so called 'pigs of the Triassic', Lystrosaurus. Because Mike used this term to describe what Lystrosaurus was like to a TV crew, they named their program, 'When pigs ruled the Earth'.

I just love that name that I have to repeatedly post it all over the place...

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