New Triassic Mass Extinction Event Discovered

Around 230 million years ago in the Late Triassic, a brutal mass extinction event occurred, and it remained undetected until now.

The event, dubbed “The Carnian Pluvial Event”, happened during a time when our Earth was dominated by volcanic activity. This specific spike in loss of life is attributed to a massive volcanic event which formed what we know today as the Wrangellia Oceanic Plateau, which makes up the rugged coast of Western Canada. This Triassic mega eruption would have spewed out immense volumes of volcanic basalt, which over millions of years, cooled and became the Wrangellia Oceanic Plateau.

A map of the world during the Late Triassic. Wrangellia can be seen as the island chain off the coast of Western North America. Image Credit: Britannica

The event triggered a period of global warming, as obscene volumes of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases filled the atmosphere, causing temperatures to rocket. This warming event was so influential, that following it, our planet saw a million years of unprecedented levels of precipitation. This is very clearly marked in the fossil record. Following this wet period was a dry, hot period in which dinosaurs got their very first opportunity to become the dominant lifeforms on Earth, accompanied with some of the very first mammals, turtles, lizards and crocodiles!

A paleoartist’s rendition of a Late Triassic scene. Artist Credit: William Sillin

The devastation this episode led to was absolutely enormous. A third of all marine life was annihilated, and numerous species of plants and animals were also wiped out. Paleontologists think that because of this extinction, more modern plants began to fill the niches that were emptied by the event, leading to the rise of biomes you could easily recognize if you went back in time, such as coniferous forests. The vacancy in the ocean led to some of the very first recognizable coral reefs, as well as the proliferation of plankton. This find is an amazing piece of the puzzle that is our planets past. For me this is one of the most interesting pieces of paleontological news to come out in a long time!

Paleoart of a pair of some of the first dinosaurs on our planet: Coelophysis. Artist Credit: Doug Henderson


  • Jacopo Dal Corso et al. 2020. Extinction and dawn of the modern world in the Carnian (Late Triassic). Science Advances 6 (38): eaba0099; doi: 10.1126/sciadv.aba0099


8 Responses to “New Triassic Mass Extinction Event Discovered

  • Again, you’ve shared fascinating info, Asas! Thank you. A Dino ? for you…when dinosaurs lived, where they scattered all over the planet or were they in only a few parts or ???
    ( I’m guessing the land masses & oceans were not as they are now.)
    Donna Nano

    • Hi Donna Nano, thanks so much for reading! When dinosaurs first started out on Earth, they lived on the super-continent Pangaea, which was one massive landmass that eventually broke up into the continents we know today, so it was during this time that dinosaurs spread to every single continent. Even Antarctica!

  • These puzzles resly give us context Asas what a fascinating find making us understand nature better in all its moods its friendship and fury that humankind must engage with. And also to see our role in this awesome interaction and the miracle of evolutionary processes always disruptive in their big moments! Is Covid19 one?
    Thank you mazaa aa jaata hai apnay Asas muan kay scientific chronicles parh kar DNA bhee mastt hai Daada Daadi Walidein Phuppos air Asas! Pyar aur duainn

    • Thank you for reading Baela Phuphi! The current pandemic is definitely a major historical event that we will look back on for generations! And I agree, it is so fascinating to consider our role in the story of our planet 🙂

  • Wow, thanks for the informative article!

  • Fascinating. And scary.

  • there should definitely be made a documentary about this

    • Hoping that the bbc releases some new documentaries about paleontology soon. They are top quality.

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