Permian Prime Suspects

  • By Susan K. Lewis
  • Posted 11.01.06
  • NOVA scienceNOW

What triggered the Permian extinction roughly 250 million years ago? Was it an asteroid or comet impact, volcanism or glaciation, a great build-up of methane gas, or something else entirely? Examine the theories, then vote for one of the prime suspects.

Launch Interactive Printable Version

Examine a lineup of possible culprits in the Permian extinction and cast your vote in our poll.



(all except Doug Erwin)
© NOVA/WGBH Educational Foundation
(Doug Erwin)
Courtesy Doug Erwin

Related Links

  • Mass Extinction

    What caused the Permian extinction—the mother of all extinctions—250 million years ago?

  • Mass Extinction: Expert Q&A

    The Smithsonian's Doug Erwin answers questions about the Permian and other mass extinctions.

  • The Permian Puzzle

    Paleontologist Doug Erwin offers his take on what caused the Permian extinction.

  • Megabeasts' Sudden Death

    Scientists propose a radical new idea of what killed off mammoths and other large animals at the end of the Ice Age.


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