The Devonian is a geologic period and system of the Paleozoic, spanning 60 million years from the end of the Silurian, 419.2 million years ago, to the beginning of the Carboniferous, 358.9 Mya. It is named after Devon, where rocks from this period were first studied; the first significant adaptive radiation of life on dry land occurred during the Devonian. Free-sporing vascular plants began to spread across dry land, forming extensive forests which covered the continents. By the middle of the Devonian, several groups of plants had evolved leaves and true roots, by the end of the period the first seed-bearing plants appeared. Various terrestrial arthropods became well-established. Fish reached substantial diversity during this time, leading the Devonian to be dubbed the "Age of Fishes." The first ray-finned and lobe-finned bony fish appeared, while the placoderms began dominating every known aquatic environment. The ancestors of all four-limbed vertebrates began adapting to walking on land, as their strong pectoral and pelvic fins evolved into legs.
In the oceans, primitive sharks became more numerous than in the Late Ordovician. The first ammonites, species of molluscs, appeared. Trilobites, the mollusc-like brachiopods and the great coral reefs, were still common; the Late Devonian extinction which started about 375 million years ago affected marine life, killing off all placodermi, all trilobites, save for a few species of the order Proetida. The palaeogeography was dominated by the supercontinent of Gondwana to the south, the continent of Siberia to the north, the early formation of the small continent of Euramerica in between; the period is named after Devon, a county in southwestern England, where a controversial argument in the 1830s over the age and structure of the rocks found distributed throughout the county was resolved by the definition of the Devonian period in the geological timescale. The Great Devonian Controversy was a long period of vigorous argument and counter-argument between the main protagonists of Roderick Murchison with Adam Sedgwick against Henry De la Beche supported by George Bellas Greenough.
Murchison and Sedgwick named the period they proposed as the Devonian System. While the rock beds that define the start and end of the Devonian period are well identified, the exact dates are uncertain. According to the International Commission on Stratigraphy, the Devonian extends from the end of the Silurian 419.2 Mya, to the beginning of the Carboniferous 358.9 Mya. In nineteenth-century texts the Devonian has been called the "Old Red Age", after the red and brown terrestrial deposits known in the United Kingdom as the Old Red Sandstone in which early fossil discoveries were found. Another common term is "Age of the Fishes", referring to the evolution of several major groups of fish that took place during the period. Older literature on the Anglo-Welsh basin divides it into the Downtonian, Dittonian and Farlovian stages, the latter three of which are placed in the Devonian; the Devonian has erroneously been characterised as a "greenhouse age", due to sampling bias: most of the early Devonian-age discoveries came from the strata of western Europe and eastern North America, which at the time straddled the Equator as part of the supercontinent of Euramerica where fossil signatures of widespread reefs indicate tropical climates that were warm and moderately humid but in fact the climate in the Devonian differed during its epochs and between geographic regions.
For example, during the Early Devonian, arid conditions were prevalent through much of the world including Siberia, North America, China, but Africa and South America had a warm temperate climate. In the Late Devonian, by contrast, arid conditions were less prevalent across the world and temperate climates were more common; the Devonian Period is formally broken into Early and Late subdivisions. The rocks corresponding to those epochs are referred to as belonging to the Lower and Upper parts of the Devonian System. Early DevonianThe Early Devonian lasted from 419.2 ± 2.8 to 393.3 ± 2.5 and began with the Lochkovian stage, which lasted until the Pragian. It spanned from 410.8 ± 2.8 to 407.6 ± 2.5, was followed by the Emsian, which lasted until the Middle Devonian began, 393.3± 2.7 million years ago. During this time, the first ammonoids appeared. Ammonoids during this time period differed little from their nautiloid counterparts; these ammonoids belong to the order Agoniatitida, which in epochs evolved to new ammonoid orders, for example Goniatitida and Clymeniida.
This class of cephalopod molluscs would dominate the marine fauna until the beginning of the Mesozoic era. Middle DevonianThe Middle Devonian comprised two subdivisions: first the Eifelian, which gave way to the Givetian 387.7± 2.7 million years ago. During this time the jawless agnathan fishes began to decline in diversity in freshwater and marine environments due to drastic environmental changes and due to the increasing competition and diversity of jawed fishes; the shallow, oxygen-depleted waters of Devonian inland lakes, surrounded by primitive plants, provided the environment necessary for certain early fish to develop such essential characteristics as well developed lungs, the ability to crawl out of the water and onto the land for short periods of time. Late DevonianFinally, the Late Devonian started with the Frasnian, 382.7 ± 2.8 to 372.2 ± 2.5, during which the first forests took shape on land. The first tetrapods appeared in the fossil record in the ensuing Famennian subdivisi
The Ordovician is a geologic period and system, the second of six periods of the Paleozoic Era. The Ordovician spans 41.2 million years from the end of the Cambrian Period 485.4 million years ago to the start of the Silurian Period 443.8 Mya. The Ordovician, named after the Celtic tribe of the Ordovices, was defined by Charles Lapworth in 1879 to resolve a dispute between followers of Adam Sedgwick and Roderick Murchison, who were placing the same rock beds in northern Wales into the Cambrian and Silurian systems, respectively. Lapworth recognized that the fossil fauna in the disputed strata were different from those of either the Cambrian or the Silurian systems, placed them in a system of their own; the Ordovician received international approval in 1960, when it was adopted as an official period of the Paleozoic Era by the International Geological Congress. Life continued to flourish during the Ordovician as it did in the earlier Cambrian period, although the end of the period was marked by the Ordovician–Silurian extinction events.
Invertebrates, namely molluscs and arthropods, dominated the oceans. The Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event increased the diversity of life. Fish, the world's first true vertebrates, continued to evolve, those with jaws may have first appeared late in the period. Life had yet to diversify on land. About 100 times as many meteorites struck the Earth per year during the Ordovician compared with today; the Ordovician Period began with a major extinction called the Cambrian–Ordovician extinction event, about 485.4 Mya. It lasted for about 42 million years and ended with the Ordovician–Silurian extinction events, about 443.8 Mya which wiped out 60% of marine genera. The dates given are recent radiometric dates and vary from those found in other sources; this second period of the Paleozoic era created abundant fossils that became major petroleum and gas reservoirs. The boundary chosen for the beginning of both the Ordovician Period and the Tremadocian stage is significant, it correlates well with the occurrence of widespread graptolite and trilobite species.
The base of the Tremadocian allows scientists to relate these species not only to each other, but to species that occur with them in other areas. This makes it easier to place many more species in time relative to the beginning of the Ordovician Period. A number of regional terms have been used to subdivide the Ordovician Period. In 2008, the ICS erected a formal international system of subdivisions. There exist Baltoscandic, Siberian, North American, Chinese Mediterranean and North-Gondwanan regional stratigraphic schemes; the Ordovician Period in Britain was traditionally broken into Early and Late epochs. The corresponding rocks of the Ordovician System are referred to as coming from the Lower, Middle, or Upper part of the column; the faunal stages from youngest to oldest are: Late Ordovician Hirnantian/Gamach Rawtheyan/Richmond Cautleyan/Richmond Pusgillian/Maysville/Richmond Middle Ordovician Trenton Onnian/Maysville/Eden Actonian/Eden Marshbrookian/Sherman Longvillian/Sherman Soudleyan/Kirkfield Harnagian/Rockland Costonian/Black River Chazy Llandeilo Whiterock Llanvirn Early Ordovician Cassinian Arenig/Jefferson/Castleman Tremadoc/Deming/Gaconadian The Tremadoc corresponds to the Tremadocian.
The Floian corresponds to the lower Arenig. The Llanvirn occupies the rest of the Darriwilian, terminates with it at the base of the Late Ordovician; the Sandbian represents the first half of the Caradoc. During the Ordovician, the southern continents were collected into Gondwana. Gondwana started the period in equatorial latitudes and, as the period progressed, drifted toward the South Pole. Early in the Ordovician, the continents of Laurentia and Baltica were still independent continents, but Baltica began to move towards Laurentia in the period, causing the Iapetus Ocean between them to shrink; the small continent Avalonia separated from Gondwana and began to move north towards Baltica and Laurentia, opening the Rheic Ocean between Gondwana and Avalonia. The Taconic orogeny, a major mountain-building episode, was well under way in Cambrian times. In the early and middle Ordovician, temperatures were mild, but at the beginning of the Late Ordovician, from 460 to 450 Ma, volcanoes along the margin of the Iapetus Ocean spewed massive amounts of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere, turning the planet into a hothouse.
Sea levels were high, but as Gondwana moved south, ice accumulated into glaciers and sea levels dropped. At first, low-lying sea beds increased diversity, but glaciation led to mass extinctions as the seas drained and continental shelves became dry land. During the Ordovician, in fact during the Tremadocian, marine transgressions worldwide were the greatest for which evidence is preserved; these volcanic island arcs collided with proto North America to form the Appalachian mountains. By the end of the Late Ordovician the volcanic emissions had stopped. Gondwana had by that time neared the South Pole and was glaciated
Mitochondrial DNA is the DNA located in mitochondria, cellular organelles within eukaryotic cells that convert chemical energy from food into a form that cells can use, adenosine triphosphate. Mitochondrial DNA is only a small portion of the DNA in a eukaryotic cell. In humans, the 16,569 base pairs of mitochondrial DNA encode for only 37 genes. Human mitochondrial DNA was the first significant part of the human genome to be sequenced. In most species, including humans, mtDNA is inherited from the mother. However, in exceptional cases, human babies sometimes inherit mtDNA from both their fathers and their mothers resulting in mtDNA heteroplasmy. Since animal mtDNA evolves faster than nuclear genetic markers, it represents a mainstay of phylogenetics and evolutionary biology, it permits an examination of the relatedness of populations, so has become important in anthropology and biogeography. Nuclear and mitochondrial DNA are thought to be of separate evolutionary origin, with the mtDNA being derived from the circular genomes of the bacteria that were engulfed by the early ancestors of today's eukaryotic cells.
This theory is called the endosymbiotic theory. Each mitochondrion is estimated to contain 2–10 mtDNA copies. In the cells of extant organisms, the vast majority of the proteins present in the mitochondria are coded for by nuclear DNA, but the genes for some, if not most, of them are thought to have been of bacterial origin, having since been transferred to the eukaryotic nucleus during evolution; the reasons why mitochondria have retained some genes are debated. The existence in some species of mitochondrion-derived organelles lacking a genome suggests that complete gene loss is possible, transferring mitochondrial genes to the nucleus has several advantages; the difficulty of targeting remotely-produced hydrophobic protein products to the mitochondrion is one hypothesis for why some genes are retained in mtDNA. Recent analysis of a wide range of mtDNA genomes suggests that both these features may dictate mitochondrial gene retention. In most multicellular organisms, mtDNA is inherited from the mother.
Mechanisms for this include simple dilution, degradation of sperm mtDNA in the male genital tract and in the fertilized egg. Whatever the mechanism, this single parent pattern of mtDNA inheritance is found in most animals, most plants and in fungi. In sexual reproduction, mitochondria are inherited from the mother. Most mitochondria are present at the base of the sperm's tail, used for propelling the sperm cells. In 1999 it was reported that paternal sperm mitochondria are marked with ubiquitin to select them for destruction inside the embryo; some in vitro fertilization techniques injecting a sperm into an oocyte, may interfere with this. The fact that mitochondrial DNA is maternally inherited enables genealogical researchers to trace maternal lineage far back in time; this is accomplished on human mitochondrial DNA by sequencing the hypervariable control regions, sometimes the complete molecule of the mitochondrial DNA, as a genealogical DNA test. HVR1, for example, consists of about 440 base pairs.
These 440 base pairs are compared to the same regions of other individuals to determine maternal lineage. Most the comparison is made with the revised Cambridge Reference Sequence. Vilà et al. have published studies tracing the matrilineal descent of domestic dogs from wolves. The concept of the Mitochondrial Eve is based on the same type of analysis, attempting to discover the origin of humanity by tracking the lineage back in time. MtDNA is conserved, its slow mutation rates make it useful for studying the evolutionary relationships—phylogeny—of organisms. Biologists can determine and compare mtDNA sequences among different species and use the comparisons to build an evolutionary tree for the species examined. However, due to the slow mutation rates, it is hard to distinguish between related species to any large degree, so other methods of analysis must be used. Entities subject to uniparental inheritance and with little to no recombination may be expected to be subject to Muller's ratchet, the accumulation of deleterious mutations until functionality is lost.
Animal populations of mitochondria avoid this through a developmental process known as the mtDNA bottleneck. The bottleneck exploits random processes in the cell to increase the cell-to-cell variability in mutant load as an organism develops: a single egg cell with some proportion of mutant mtDNA thus produces an embryo in which different cells have different mutant loads. Cell-level selection may act to remove those cells with more mutant mtDNA, leading to a stabilisation or reduction in mutant load between generations; the mechanism underlying the bottleneck is debated, with a recent mathematical and experimental
Atlantogenata is a proposed clade of mammals containing the cohorts or superorders Xenarthra and Afrotheria. These groups originated and radiated in the South American and African continents presumably in the Cretaceous. Together with Boreoeutheria, they make up Eutheria; the monophyly of this grouping was supported by some genetic evidence. Alternative hypotheses are that Boreoeutheria and Afrotheria combine to form Epitheria or that Boreoeutheria and Xenarthra combine to form Exafroplacentalia or Notolegia. Updated analysis of transposable element insertions around the time of divergence supports the fourth hypothesis of a near-concomitant origin of the three superorders of mammals. Below shows the phylogeny of the extant atlantogenate families
The Precambrian is the earliest part of Earth's history, set before the current Phanerozoic Eon. The Precambrian is so named because it preceded the Cambrian, the first period of the Phanerozoic eon, named after Cambria, the Latinised name for Wales, where rocks from this age were first studied; the Precambrian accounts for 88% of the Earth's geologic time. The Precambrian is an informal unit of geologic time, subdivided into three eons of the geologic time scale, it spans from the formation of Earth about 4.6 billion years ago to the beginning of the Cambrian Period, about 541 million years ago, when hard-shelled creatures first appeared in abundance. Little is known about the Precambrian, despite it making up seven-eighths of the Earth's history, what is known has been discovered from the 1960s onwards; the Precambrian fossil record is poorer than that of the succeeding Phanerozoic, fossils from the Precambrian are of limited biostratigraphic use. This is because many Precambrian rocks have been metamorphosed, obscuring their origins, while others have been destroyed by erosion, or remain buried beneath Phanerozoic strata.
It is thought that the Earth coalesced from material in orbit around the Sun at 4,543 Ma, may have been struck by a large planetesimal shortly after it formed, splitting off material that formed the Moon. A stable crust was in place by 4,433 Ma, since zircon crystals from Western Australia have been dated at 4,404 ± 8 Ma; the term "Precambrian" is recognized by the International Commission on Stratigraphy as the only "supereon" in geologic time. "Precambrian" is still used by geologists and paleontologists for general discussions not requiring the more specific eon names. As of 2010, the United States Geological Survey considers the term informal, lacking a stratigraphic rank. A specific date for the origin of life has not been determined. Carbon found in 3.8 billion-year-old rocks from islands off western Greenland may be of organic origin. Well-preserved microscopic fossils of bacteria older than 3.46 billion years have been found in Western Australia. Probable fossils 100 million years older have been found in the same area.
However, there is evidence. There is a solid record of bacterial life throughout the remainder of the Precambrian. Excluding a few contested reports of much older forms from North America and India, the first complex multicellular life forms seem to have appeared at 1500 Ma, in the Mesoproterozoic era of the Proterozoic eon. Fossil evidence from the Ediacaran period of such complex life comes from the Lantian formation, at least 580 million years ago. A diverse collection of soft-bodied forms is found in a variety of locations worldwide and date to between 635 and 542 Ma; these are referred to as Vendian biota. Hard-shelled creatures appeared toward the end of that time span, marking the beginning of the Phanerozoic eon. By the middle of the following Cambrian period, a diverse fauna is recorded in the Burgess Shale, including some which may represent stem groups of modern taxa; the increase in diversity of lifeforms during the early Cambrian is called the Cambrian explosion of life. While land seems to have been devoid of plants and animals and other microbes formed prokaryotic mats that covered terrestrial areas.
Tracks from an animal with leg like appendages have been found in what was mud 551 million years ago. Evidence of the details of plate motions and other tectonic activity in the Precambrian has been poorly preserved, it is believed that small proto-continents existed prior to 4280 Ma, that most of the Earth's landmasses collected into a single supercontinent around 1130 Ma. The supercontinent, known as Rodinia, broke up around 750 Ma. A number of glacial periods have been identified going as far back as the Huronian epoch 2400–2100 Ma. One of the best studied is the Sturtian-Varangian glaciation, around 850–635 Ma, which may have brought glacial conditions all the way to the equator, resulting in a "Snowball Earth"; the atmosphere of the early Earth is not well understood. Most geologists believe it was composed of nitrogen, carbon dioxide, other inert gases, was lacking in free oxygen. There is, evidence that an oxygen-rich atmosphere existed since the early Archean. At present, it is still believed that molecular oxygen was not a significant fraction of Earth's atmosphere until after photosynthetic life forms evolved and began to produce it in large quantities as a byproduct of their metabolism.
This radical shift from a chemically inert to an oxidizing atmosphere caused an ecological crisis, sometimes called the oxygen catastrophe. At first, oxygen would have combined with other elements in Earth's crust iron, removing it from the atmosphere. After the supply of oxidizable surfaces ran out, oxygen would have begun to accumulate in the atmosphere, the modern high-oxygen atmosphere would have developed. Evidence for this lies in older rocks that contain massive banded iron formations that were laid down as iron oxides. A terminology has evolved covering the early years of the Earth's existence, as radiometric dating has allowed real dates to be assigned to specific formations and features; the Precambrian is divided into
The Permian is a geologic period and system which spans 47 million years from the end of the Carboniferous Period 298.9 million years ago, to the beginning of the Triassic period 251.902 Mya. It is the last period of the Paleozoic era; the concept of the Permian was introduced in 1841 by geologist Sir Roderick Murchison, who named it after the city of Perm. The Permian witnessed the diversification of the early amniotes into the ancestral groups of the mammals, turtles and archosaurs; the world at the time was dominated by two continents known as Pangaea and Siberia, surrounded by a global ocean called Panthalassa. The Carboniferous rainforest collapse left behind vast regions of desert within the continental interior. Amniotes, who could better cope with these drier conditions, rose to dominance in place of their amphibian ancestors; the Permian ended with the Permian–Triassic extinction event, the largest mass extinction in Earth's history, in which nearly 96% of marine species and 70% of terrestrial species died out.
It would take well into the Triassic for life to recover from this catastrophe. Recovery from the Permian–Triassic extinction event was protracted; the term "Permian" was introduced into geology in 1841 by Sir R. I. Murchison, president of the Geological Society of London, who identified typical strata in extensive Russian explorations undertaken with Édouard de Verneuil; the region now lies in the Perm Krai of Russia. Official ICS 2017 subdivisions of the Permian System from most recent to most ancient rock layers are: Lopingian epoch Changhsingian Wuchiapingian Others: Waiitian Makabewan Ochoan Guadalupian epoch Capitanian stage Wordian stage Roadian stage Others: Kazanian or Maokovian Braxtonian stage Cisuralian epoch Kungurian stage Artinskian stage Sakmarian stage Asselian stage Others: Telfordian Mangapirian Sea levels in the Permian remained low, near-shore environments were reduced as all major landmasses collected into a single continent—Pangaea; this could have in part caused the widespread extinctions of marine species at the end of the period by reducing shallow coastal areas preferred by many marine organisms.
During the Permian, all the Earth's major landmasses were collected into a single supercontinent known as Pangaea. Pangaea straddled the equator and extended toward the poles, with a corresponding effect on ocean currents in the single great ocean, the Paleo-Tethys Ocean, a large ocean that existed between Asia and Gondwana; the Cimmeria continent rifted away from Gondwana and drifted north to Laurasia, causing the Paleo-Tethys Ocean to shrink. A new ocean was growing on its southern end, the Tethys Ocean, an ocean that would dominate much of the Mesozoic era. Large continental landmass interiors experience climates with extreme variations of heat and cold and monsoon conditions with seasonal rainfall patterns. Deserts seem to have been widespread on Pangaea; such dry conditions favored gymnosperms, plants with seeds enclosed in a protective cover, over plants such as ferns that disperse spores in a wetter environment. The first modern trees appeared in the Permian. Three general areas are noted for their extensive Permian deposits—the Ural Mountains and the southwest of North America, including the Texas red beds.
The Permian Basin in the U. S. states of Texas and New Mexico is so named because it has one of the thickest deposits of Permian rocks in the world. The climate in the Permian was quite varied. At the start of the Permian, the Earth was still in an ice age. Glaciers receded around the mid-Permian period as the climate warmed, drying the continent's interiors. In the late Permian period, the drying continued although the temperature cycled between warm and cool cycles. Permian marine deposits are rich in fossil mollusks and brachiopods. Fossilized shells of two kinds of invertebrates are used to identify Permian strata and correlate them between sites: fusulinids, a kind of shelled amoeba-like protist, one of the foraminiferans, ammonoids, shelled cephalopods that are distant relatives of the modern nautilus. By the close of the Permian, trilobites and a host of other marine groups became extinct. Terrestrial life in the Permian included diverse plants, fungi and various types of tetrapods; the period saw a massive desert covering the interior of Pangaea.
The warm zone spread in the northern hemisphere. The rocks formed at that time were stained red by iron oxides, the result of intense heating by the sun of a surface devoid of vegetation cover. A number of older types of plants and animals became marginal elements; the Permian began with the Carboniferous flora still flourishing. About the middle of the Permian a major transition in vegetation began; the swamp-loving
Quaternary extinction event
The Quaternary period saw the extinctions of numerous predominantly megafaunal species, which resulted in a collapse in faunal density and diversity and the extinction of key ecological strata across the globe. The most prominent event in the Late Pleistocene is differentiated from previous Quaternary pulse extinctions by the widespread absence of ecological succession to replace these extinct species, the regime shift of established faunal relationships and habitats as a consequence; the earliest casualties were incurred at 130,000 BCE. However, the great majority of extinctions in Afro-Eurasia and the Americas occurred during the transition from the Pleistocene to the Holocene epoch; this extinction wave did not stop at the end of the Pleistocene, continuing on isolated islands, in human-caused extinctions, although there is debate as to whether these should be considered separate events or part of the same event. Among the main causes hypothesized by paleontologists are overkill by the widespread appearance of humans and natural climate change.
A notable modern human presence first appeared during the Middle Pleistocene in Africa, started to establish continuous, permanent populations in Eurasia and Australasia from 120,000 BCE and 63,000 BCE and the Americas from 22,000 BCE. A variant of the former possibility is the second-order predation hypothesis, which focuses more on the indirect damage caused by overcompetition with nonhuman predators. Recent studies have tended to favor the human-overkill theory; the Late Pleistocene extinction event saw the extinction of many mammals weighing more than 40 kg. The proportional rate of megafauna extinctions is progressively larger the greater the human migratory distance from Africa. In Subsaharan Africa, 8 of 50 genera of mammalian megafauna were driven to extinction. In Asia, 24 of 46 In Europe, 23 of 39 In Australasia, 19 of 27 In North America, 45 of 61 In South America, 58 of 71 The extinctions in the Americas entailed the elimination of all the larger mammalian species of South American origin, including those that had migrated north in the Great American Interchange.
Only in the continents of Australia, North America, South America did the extinction occur at family taxonomic levels or higher. The proportional rate of megafauna extinctions being incrementally bigger the larger the migratory distance from Africa might be related to non-African megafauna and Homo sapiens having not evolved as species alongside each other. For their part, North America and South America, which had the highest incremental extinction rates, had no known native species of Hominoidea at all, no species of Hominidae or Homo; the increased rate of extinction mirrors the sequential pattern of the migration of anatomically modern humans. The further away from Africa, the more the area has been inhabited by humans, the less time the environments had had to become accustomed to humans and vice versa. There is no evidence of megafaunal extinctions at the height of the Last Glacial Maximum, indicating that increasing cold and glaciation were not factors. There are three main hypotheses concerning the Pleistocene extinction: climate change associated with the advance and retreat of major ice caps or ice sheets.
"prehistoric overkill hypothesis" the extinction of the woolly mammoth changed the extensive grasslands to birch forests, subsequent forest fires changed the climate. We now know that after the extinction of the mammoth, birch forests replaced the grasslands and that an era of significant fire began. There are some inconsistencies between the current available data and the prehistoric overkill hypothesis. For instance, there are ambiguities around the timing of sudden extinctions of Australian megafauna. Biologists note that comparable extinctions have not occurred in Africa and South or Southeast Asia, where the fauna evolved with hominids. Post-glacial megafaunal extinctions in Africa have been spaced over a longer interval. Evidence supporting the prehistoric overkill hypothesis includes the persistence of certain island megafauna for several millennia past the disappearance of their continental cousins. Ground sloths survived on the Antilles long after North and South American ground sloths were extinct.
The disappearance of the island species correlates with the colonization of these islands by humans. Woolly mammoths died out on remote Wrangel Island 1,000 years after their extinction on the mainland. Steller's sea cows persisted in seas off the isolated and uninhabited Commander Islands for thousands of years after they had vanished from the continental shores of the north Pacific. Alternative hypotheses to the theory of human responsibility include climate change associated with the last glacial period and the Younger Dryas event, as well as Tollmann's hypothetical bolide, which claim that the extinctions resulted from bolide impact; such a scenario has been proposed as a contributing cause of the 1,300-year cold period known as the Younger Dryas stadial. This impact extinction hypothesis is still in debate due to the exacting field techniques required to extract minuscule particles of extraterrestrial impact markers such as iridium at a high resolution from thin strata in a repeatable fashion, as is necessary to conclusively distinguish the event peak from the local background level of the marker.
The debate seems to be exacerbated by infighting between the Uniformitarianism camp and the Catastrophism camp. Recent research indicates that each single species responded differently to environm