The modern loss of species diversity has been labelled the ‘sixth extinction’ subsequent to the five major mass extinctions widely recognised in the Phanerozoic geologic record–the end-Ordovician (443.8 Ma), the Late Devonian (372.2 Ma), end-Permian (251.9 Ma), end-Triassic (201.4 Ma) and end-Cretaceous (66 Ma) events. Rankings in terms of numbers of genera suffering extinction, and especially in terms of ecological impact, however, put the end-Guadalupian (end-Capitanian) (259.8 Ma) extinction event in the same category with the other major mass extinctions. Thus, there were apparently six major Phanerozoic mass extinctions, and the current loss of species should perhaps be called the ‘seventh extinction’.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)