Biomarker Records Associated with Mass Extinction Events
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The history of life on Earth is punctuated by a series of mass extinction episodes that vary widely in their magnitude, duration, and cause. Biomarkers are a powerful tool for the reconstruction of historical environmental conditions and therefore can provide insights into the cause and responses to ancient extinction events. In examining the five largest mass extinctions in the geologic record, biomarkers have been used to elucidate key processes such as eutrophy, euxinia, ocean acidification, changes in hydrologic balance, and atmospheric CO2 changes. By using these molecular fossils to understand how the Earth and its ecosystems have responded to unusual environmental activity during these extinctions, models can be made to predict how the Earth will respond to future changes in its climate.
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