Scientists said the mass extinction 233 million years ago reshaped life on Earth, allowing dinosaurs to take over.
The event, called the Carnian-Plovial Ring, is said to have resulted from a sudden change in climate.
A team of 17 scientists reviewed the geological evidence and paleontology, and found that massive volcanic eruptions in the west Canada It is the most likely cause of the event.
These eruptions led to a massive flow of volcanic basalt rocks and formed what is now the western coast of North America.
Climate warming was linked to increased precipitation at the time – this was first identified as a wet episode that lasted a million years by geologists in the 1980s.
Although large parts of life were wiped out both in the oceans and on land, the event allowed dinosaurs to dominate the planet – they existed 20 million years ago but were rare and insignificant.
The researchers also said the event led to more modern ecosystems consisting of coniferous forests, as well as the emergence and diversification of some of the first mammals – turtles, crocodiles, and lizards during this time.
Professor Jacobo Dal Corso, of the China University of Geosciences at Wuhan“The explosions were very massive,” he said. “They pumped huge amounts of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, and there were surges in global warming.”
So far, he explained, five major mass extinctions have been identified over 500 million years of history, saying that all of them “had a profound impact on the evolution of Earth and life.”
He added: “We have identified another major extinction event, and it is clear that it had a major role in helping to restore life on land and in the oceans, indicating the origins of modern ecosystems.”
The researchers also suggested that the Carnian-Bluffal Ring affected ocean life, seeing the beginnings of modern-style coral reefs, as well as many groups of modern plankton.