During the Late Permian, tectonic movement of the plates led to the formation of one huge land mass called PANGEA. The formation of this supercontinent had a number of side affects which could have led to species becoming extinct.
With such a large mass of land, the weather was severe. With all the land joined, much of the supercontinent was inland and away from the cooling affects of the sea. A hot dry interior formed where the land was low lying, and higher altitudes experienced unseasonal weather patterns. These extremes would have forced specialized organisms to move to other areas, or share limited resources in the remaining suitable habitats. The competition for food and land could have led to some species suffering losses in numbers, or even extinction.
The land level of the Permian supercontinent was more low lying than today. Sea levels rose as a result of melting of the Permo-Carboniferous glaciation and, since the land was low, flooding was extreme. The flooding would have reduced the land area, and changed the coastal water levels and environments dramatically. The geologically regular change in habitat over the Permian period would have caused some species to die out if they could not adapt to cope with changes or move to other habitats.
|With the land joined together, the area of coastline around the edge of the supercontinent would have been reduced. Many researchers believe the reduction of shallow marine environments led to less habitat being available to marine organisms. With less habitat, there would have been competition for space and food. Any species that could not adapt to a different environment would be challenged by other species for the remaining shallow marine habitat. This could be one reason why there has been such a loss of marine species recorded for the Permian.|
Parts of Pangea lay over the poles. The presence of land at the poles leads to glaciation.
The Pangean supercontinent led to many changes in the shape of the land, glaciation patterns and climate, which in turn altered sea level and salinity of the oceans. These affects are often interlinked. The presence of Pangea helped to initiate extreme environments, and along with other evidence, such as volcanism and impact, led to the biggest extinction seen in the history of Earth.
BACK to introduction.