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Mysterious Mass Extinctions Explained

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Tagged As: Biology and Science

Regarding "mass extinction" most people are familiar with the mystery behind the dinosaur's disappearance. However, there are actually more mass extinctions in the Earth's history. Scientists were stumped over evidence found in the ocean of cyclic mass extinction occurring every 62 and 140 million years. While theories abounded regarding ice age patterns, nobody could explain the repetitive nature of the 62 million year cycle until now.

Adrian Melott of the University of Kansas describes, "the movement [of the Milky Way] is not edge-on like a Frisbee" it is more "like a pie in the face." Every 62 million years the solar system cycles out from the central plane of the Milky Way and moves towards the galaxy's forward moving face. Up front, an intense radiation shock wave is produced from the Milky Way forcing its way through gas clouds. Removed from the central plane, the Earth is not protected by the galaxy's inner magnetic fields and is subjected to intense radiation. Melott and fellow researcher Mikhail Medvedev hypothesize this radiation is the root cause of cyclic mass extinction and a prominent driver of genetic mutation which forces species adaptation.

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