Medea hypothesis

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The Medea hypothesis is a term coined by paleontologist Peter Ward[1] for the anti-Gaian hypothesis that multicellular life, understood as a superorganism, is suicidal; in this view, microbial-triggered mass extinctions are attempts to return the Earth to the microbial-dominated state it has been for most of its history.[2][3][4] The metaphor refers to the mythological Medea (representing the Earth), who kills her own children (multicellular life).

Past "suicide attempts" include:

The list does not include the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event, since this was, at least partially, externally induced by a meteor impact.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Peter Ward (2009), The Medea Hypothesis: Is Life on Earth Ultimately Self-Destructive?, ISBN 0-691-13075-2
  2. ^ Gaia's evil twin: Is life its own worst enemy? The New Scientist. Volume 202, Issue 2713, 17 June 2009, pages 28–31 (Cover story)
  3. ^ Bennett, Drake (2009-01-11). "Dark green: A scientist argues that the natural world isn't benevolent and sustaining: it's bent on self-destruction". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2010-02-26.
  4. ^ Grey, William (February 2010). "Gaia theory – Reflections on life on earth". Australian Review of Public Affairs. University of Sydney. Retrieved 2010-02-26.

External links[edit]