Portal:Earth sciences/Selected articles

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1 (edit)
Caldera Mt Tambora Sumbawa Indonesia.jpg

Mount Tambora, or Tomboro, is an active stratovolcano in the northern part of Sumbawa, one of the Lesser Sunda Islands of Indonesia. Tambora is known for its major eruption in 1815. It was formed due to the active subduction zones beneath it, and before the eruption of 1815, it was more than 4,300 metres (14,100 feet) high, making it then one of the tallest peaks in the Indonesian archipelago.

The large magma chamber under Tambora had been drained by pre-1815 eruptions and underwent several centuries of dormancy as it refilled. Volcanic activity reached a peak that year, culminating in the eruption. With a Volcanic Explosivity Index of 7, the eruption was the most devastating in recorded history. The explosion was heard on Sumatra island, more than 2,000 kilometres (1,200 miles) away. Heavy volcanic ash rains were observed as far away as Borneo, Sulawesi, Java and Maluku islands, and the maximum elevation of Tambora was reduced from about 4,300 metres (14,100 ft) to 2,850 metres (9,350 feet). Although estimates vary, the death toll was at least 71,000 people. The eruption caused global climate anomalies in the following years, while 1816 became known as the "year without a summer" due to the impact on North American and European weather. In the Northern Hemisphere, crops failed and livestock died, resulting in the worst famine of the century. Read more...

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Yucatan chix crater.jpg

The Chicxulub crater (/ˈkʃʊlb/; Mayan: [tʃʼikʃuluɓ]) is an impact crater buried underneath the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico. Its center is located near the town of Chicxulub, after which the crater is named. It was formed by a large asteroid or comet about 11 to 81 kilometres (6.8 to 50.3 miles) in diameter, the Chicxulub impactor, striking the Earth. The date of the impact coincides precisely with the Cretaceous–Paleogene boundary (K–Pg boundary), slightly less than 66 million years ago, and a widely accepted theory is that worldwide climate disruption from the event was the cause of the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event, a mass extinction in which 75% of plant and animal species on Earth became extinct, including all non-avian dinosaurs.

The crater is estimated to be 150 kilometres (93 miles) in diameter and 20 km (12 mi) in depth, well into the continental crust of the region of about 10–30 km (6.2–18.6 mi) depth. It is the second largest confirmed impact structure on Earth and the only one whose peak ring is intact and directly accessible for scientific research. Read more...

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Hurricane Isabel from ISS.jpg

Hurricane Isabel was the deadliest, costliest, and most intense hurricane in the 2003 Atlantic hurricane season. The ninth named storm, fifth hurricane, and second major hurricane of the season, Isabel formed near the Cape Verde Islands from a tropical wave on September 6, in the tropical Atlantic Ocean. It moved northwestward, and within an environment of light wind shear and warm waters, it steadily strengthened to reach peak winds of 165 mph (270 km/h) on September 11. After fluctuating in intensity for four days, during which it displayed annular characteristics, Isabel gradually weakened and made landfall on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, with winds of 105 mph (165 km/h) on September 18. Isabel quickly weakened over land and became extratropical over western Pennsylvania on the next day. On September 20, the extratropical remnants of Isabel were absorbed into another system over Eastern Canada.

In North Carolina, the storm surge from Isabel washed out a portion of Hatteras Island to form what was unofficially known as Isabel Inlet. Damage was greatest along the Outer Banks, where thousands of homes were damaged or even destroyed. The worst of the effects of Isabel occurred in Virginia, especially in the Hampton Roads area and along the shores of rivers as far west and north as Richmond and Baltimore. Virginia reported the most deaths and damage from the hurricane. About 64% of the damage and 69% of the deaths occurred in North Carolina and Virginia. Electric service was disrupted in areas of Virginia for several days, some more rural areas were without electricity for weeks, and local flooding caused thousands of dollars in damage. Read more...

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Ground fire at Grant Village 2.jpg

Hurricane Isabel was the deadliest, costliest, and most intense hurricane in the 2003 Atlantic hurricane season. The ninth named storm, fifth hurricane, and second major hurricane of the season, Isabel formed near the Cape Verde Islands from a tropical wave on September 6, in the tropical Atlantic Ocean. It moved northwestward, and within an environment of light wind shear and warm waters, it steadily strengthened to reach peak winds of 165 mph (270 km/h) on September 11. After fluctuating in intensity for four days, during which it displayed annular characteristics, Isabel gradually weakened and made landfall on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, with winds of 105 mph (165 km/h) on September 18. Isabel quickly weakened over land and became extratropical over western Pennsylvania on the next day. On September 20, the extratropical remnants of Isabel were absorbed into another system over Eastern Canada.

In North Carolina, the storm surge from Isabel washed out a portion of Hatteras Island to form what was unofficially known as Isabel Inlet. Damage was greatest along the Outer Banks, where thousands of homes were damaged or even destroyed. The worst of the effects of Isabel occurred in Virginia, especially in the Hampton Roads area and along the shores of rivers as far west and north as Richmond and Baltimore. Virginia reported the most deaths and damage from the hurricane. About 64% of the damage and 69% of the deaths occurred in North Carolina and Virginia. Electric service was disrupted in areas of Virginia for several days, some more rural areas were without electricity for weeks, and local flooding caused thousands of dollars in damage. Read more...

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Yellowstonefire.jpg

Yellowstone National Park is an American national park located in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. It was established by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1872. Yellowstone was the first national park in the U.S. and is also widely held to be the first national park in the world. The park is known for its wildlife and its many geothermal features, especially Old Faithful geyser, one of its most popular features. It has many types of ecosystems, but the subalpine forest is the most abundant. It is part of the South Central Rockies forests ecoregion.

Native Americans have lived in the Yellowstone region for at least 11,000 years. Aside from visits by mountain men during the early-to-mid-19th century, organized exploration did not begin until the late 1860s. Management and control of the park originally fell under the jurisdiction of the Secretary of the Interior, the first being Columbus Delano. However, the U.S. Army was subsequently commissioned to oversee management of Yellowstone for a 30-year period between 1886 and 1916. In 1917, administration of the park was transferred to the National Park Service, which had been created the previous year. Hundreds of structures have been built and are protected for their architectural and historical significance, and researchers have examined more than a thousand archaeological sites. Read more...

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Plates tect2 en.svg

Plate tectonics (from the Late Latin tectonicus, from the Greek: τεκτονικός "pertaining to building") is a scientific theory describing the large-scale motion of seven large plates and the movements of a larger number of smaller plates of the Earth's lithosphere, since tectonic processes began on Earth between 3 and 3.5 billion years ago. The model builds on the concept of continental drift, an idea developed during the first decades of the 20th century. The geoscientific community accepted plate-tectonic theory after seafloor spreading was validated in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

The lithosphere, which is the rigid outermost shell of a planet (the crust and upper mantle), is broken into tectonic plates. The Earth's lithosphere is composed of seven or eight major plates (depending on how they are defined) and many minor plates. Where the plates meet, their relative motion determines the type of boundary: convergent, divergent, or transform. Earthquakes, volcanic activity, mountain-building, and oceanic trench formation occur along these plate boundaries (or faults). The relative movement of the plates typically ranges from zero to 100 mm annually. Read more...

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Amchitka (/æmˈɪtkə/; Aleut: Amchixtax̂) is a volcanic, tectonically unstable island in the Rat Islands group of the Aleutian Islands in southwest Alaska. It is part of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. The island, with a land area of roughly 116 square miles (300 km2), is about 42 miles (68 km) long and 1 to 4 miles (1.6 to 6.4 km) wide. The area has a maritime climate, with many storms, and mostly overcast skies.

Amchitka was populated for more than 2,500 years by the Aleut people, but has had no permanent population since 1832. The island has been part of the United States since the Alaska Purchase of 1867. During World War II, it was used as an airfield by US forces in the Aleutian Islands Campaign. Read more...

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India climatic zone map en.svg

The Climate of India comprises a wide range of weather conditions across a vast geographic scale and varied topography, making generalisations difficult. Based on the Köppen system, India hosts six major climatic subtypes, ranging from arid desert in the west, alpine tundra and glaciers in the north, and humid tropical regions supporting rainforests in the southwest and the island territories. Many regions have starkly different microclimates. The country's meteorological department follows the international standard of four climatological seasons with some local adjustments: winter (December, January and February), summer (March, April and May), a monsoon rainy season (June to September), and a post-monsoon period (October to November).

India's geography and geology are climatically pivotal: the Thar Desert in the northwest and the Himalayas in the north work in tandem to effect a culturally and economically important monsoonal regime. As Earth's highest and most massive mountain range, the Himalayas bar the influx of frigid katabatic winds from the icy Tibetan Plateau and northerly Central Asia. Most of North India is thus kept warm or is only mildly chilly or cold during winter; the same thermal dam keeps most regions in India hot in summer. Read more...

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Kimberella crop.jpg

The Ediacaran (/ˌdiˈækərən/; formerly Vendian) biota consisted of enigmatic tubular and frond-shaped, mostly sessile organisms that lived during the Ediacaran Period (ca. 635–542 Mya). Trace fossils of these organisms have been found worldwide, and represent the earliest known complex multicellular organisms. The Ediacaran biota may have radiated in a proposed event called the Avalon explosion, 575 million years ago, after the Earth had thawed from the Cryogenian period's extensive glaciation. The biota largely disappeared with the rapid increase in biodiversity known as the Cambrian explosion. Most of the currently existing body plans of animals first appeared in the fossil record of the Cambrian rather than the Ediacaran. For macroorganisms, the Cambrian biota appears to have completely replaced the organisms that dominated the Ediacaran fossil record, although relationships are still a matter of debate.

The organisms of the Ediacaran Period first appeared around 600 million years ago and flourished until the cusp of the Cambrian 542 million years ago, when the characteristic communities of fossils vanished. A diverse Ediacaran community was discovered in 1995 in Sonora, Mexico, and is approximately 555 million years in age, roughly coeval with Ediacaran fossils of the Ediacara Hills, South Australia and the White Sea, Russia. While rare fossils that may represent survivors have been found as late as the Middle Cambrian (510 to 500 million years ago), the earlier fossil communities disappear from the record at the end of the Ediacaran leaving only curious fragments of once-thriving ecosystems. Multiple hypotheses exist to explain the disappearance of this biota, including preservation bias, a changing environment, the advent of predators and competition from other life-forms. Recent (2018) sampling of late Ediacaran strata across Baltica (<560 mya) suggests the flourishing of the organisms coincided with conditions of low overall productivity with a very high percentage produced by bacteria, which may have led to high concentrations of dissolved organic material in the oceans. Read more...

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Global Warming Map.jpg

Global warming is a long-term rise in the average temperature of the Earth's climate system, an aspect of climate change shown by temperature measurements and by multiple effects of the warming. Though earlier geological periods also experienced episodes of warming, the term commonly refers to the observed and continuing increase in average air and ocean temperatures since 1900 caused mainly by emissions of greenhouse gasses in the modern industrial economy. In the modern context the terms global warming and climate change are commonly used interchangeably, but climate change includes both global warming and its effects, such as changes to precipitation and impacts that differ by region. Many of the observed changes in climate since the 1950s are unprecedented in the instrumental temperature record, and in historical and paleoclimate proxy records of climate change over thousands to millions of years.

In 2013, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report concluded, "It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century." The largest human influence has been the emission of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. Climate model projections summarized in the report indicated that during the 21st century, the global surface temperature is likely to rise a further 0.3 to 1.7 °C (0.5 to 3.1 °F) to 2.6 to 4.8 °C (4.7 to 8.6 °F) depending on the rate of greenhouse gas emissions and on climate feedback effects. These findings have been recognized by the national science academies of the major industrialized nations and are not disputed by any scientific body of national or international standing. Read more...

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YosemitePark2 amk.jpg

Yosemite National Park (/jˈsɛmɪti/ yoh-SEM-i-tee) is an American national park located in the western Sierra Nevada of Central California, bounded on the southeast by Sierra National Forest and on the northwest by Stanislaus National Forest. The park is managed by the National Park Service and covers an area of 747,956 acres (1,168.681 sq mi; 302,687 ha; 3,026.87 km2) and sits in four counties: centered in Tuolumne and Mariposa, extending north and east to Mono and south to Madera County. Designated a World Heritage site in 1984, Yosemite is internationally recognized for its granite cliffs, waterfalls, clear streams, giant sequoia groves, lakes, mountains, meadows, glaciers, and biological diversity. Almost 95% of the park is designated wilderness.

On average, about 4 million people visit Yosemite each year, and most spend the majority of their time in the 7 square miles (18 km2) of Yosemite Valley. The park set a visitation record in 2016, surpassing 5 million visitors for the first time in its history. Yosemite was central to the development of the national park idea. Galen Clark and others lobbied to protect Yosemite Valley from development, ultimately leading to President Abraham Lincoln's signing the Yosemite Grant in 1864. John Muir led a successful movement to have Congress establish a larger national park by 1890, one which encompassed the valley and its surrounding mountains and forests, paving the way for the National Park System. Read more...

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Hurricane Gloria (1985).JPG

Hurricane Gloria was the first significant tropical cyclone to strike the northeastern United States since Hurricane Agnes in 1972 and the first major storm to affect New York and Long Island directly since Hurricane Donna in 1960. It was a powerful Cape Verde hurricane that formed during the 1985 Atlantic hurricane season, originating from a tropical wave on September 16 in the eastern Atlantic Ocean. After remaining a weak tropical cyclone for several days, Gloria intensified into a hurricane on September 22 north of the Lesser Antilles. During that time, the storm had moved generally westward, although it turned to the northwest due to a weakening of the ridge. Gloria quickly intensified on September 24, and the next day reached peak winds of 145 mph (230 km/h). The hurricane weakened before striking the Outer Banks of North Carolina on September 27. Later that day, Gloria made two subsequent landfalls on Long Island and later western Connecticut, before becoming extratropical on September 28 over New England. The remnants moved through Atlantic Canada, eventually dissipating on October 2.

Before Gloria made landfall, the National Hurricane Center issued hurricane warnings at some point for the East Coast of the United States from South Carolina to Maine. Hundreds of thousands of people evacuated, and the hurricane was described as the "storm of the century". In general, Gloria's strongest winds remained east of the center, which largely spared locations from North Carolina to New Jersey, and the passage at low tide reduced storm surge. Hurricane-force winds and gusts affected much of the path, which knocked down trees and power lines. This left over 4 million people without power, including the worst power outage in Connecticut history related to a natural disaster. The extended power outage on Long Island, affecting 1.5 million people at some point, caused the Long Island Lighting Company to be shut down and be replaced with a public company. Fallen trees caused six of the storm's fourteen deaths. Read more...

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Strokkur geyser eruption, close-up view.jpg

A geyser (/ˈɡzər/, also /ˈɡzə/) is a spring characterized by intermittent discharge of water ejected turbulently and accompanied by steam. As a fairly rare phenomenon, the formation of geysers is due to particular hydrogeological conditions that exist only in a few places on Earth. Generally all geyser field sites are located near active volcanic areas, and the geyser effect is due to the proximity of magma. Generally, surface water works its way down to an average depth of around 2,000 metres (6,600 ft) where it contacts hot rocks. The resultant boiling of the pressurized water results in the geyser effect of hot water and steam spraying out of the geyser's surface vent (a hydrothermal explosion).

A geyser's eruptive activity may change or cease due to ongoing mineral deposition within the geyser plumbing, exchange of functions with nearby hot springs, earthquake influences, and human intervention. Like many other natural phenomena, geysers are not unique to planet Earth. Jet-like eruptions, often referred to as cryogeysers, have been observed on several of the moons of the outer solar system. Due to the low ambient pressures, these eruptions consist of vapor without liquid; they are made more easily visible by particles of dust and ice carried aloft by the gas. Water vapor jets have been observed near the south pole of Saturn's moon Enceladus, while nitrogen eruptions have been observed on Neptune's moon Triton. There are also signs of carbon dioxide eruptions from the southern polar ice cap of Mars. In the latter two cases, instead of being driven by geothermal energy, the eruptions seem to rely on solar heating via a solid-state greenhouse effect. Read more...

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The geological history of Earth follows the major events in Earth's past based on the geological time scale, a system of chronological measurement based on the study of the planet's rock layers (stratigraphy). Earth formed about 4.54 billion years ago by accretion from the solar nebula, a disk-shaped mass of dust and gas left over from the formation of the Sun, which also created the rest of the Solar System.

Earth was initially molten due to extreme volcanism and frequent collisions with other bodies. Eventually, the outer layer of the planet cooled to form a solid crust when water began accumulating in the atmosphere. The Moon formed soon afterwards, possibly as a result of the impact of a planetoid with the Earth. Outgassing and volcanic activity produced the primordial atmosphere. Condensing water vapor, augmented by ice delivered from comets, produced the oceans. Read more...

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Terrestrial planet size comparisons.jpg

The geology of solar terrestrial planets mainly deals with the geological aspects of the four terrestrial planets of the Solar SystemMercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars – and one terrestrial dwarf planet: Ceres. Earth is the only terrestrial planet known to have an active hydrosphere.

Terrestrial planets are substantially different from the giant planets, which might not have solid surfaces and are composed mostly of some combination of hydrogen, helium, and water existing in various physical states. Terrestrial planets have a compact, rocky surfaces, and Venus, Earth, and Mars each also have an atmosphere. Their size, radius, and density are all similar. Read more...

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Crater lake oregon.jpg

Crater Lake (Klamath: giiwas) is a crater lake in south-central Oregon in the western United States. It is the main feature of Crater Lake National Park and is famous for its deep blue color and water clarity. The lake partly fills a nearly 2,148-foot (655 m)-deep caldera that was formed around 7,700 (± 150) years ago by the collapse of the volcano Mount Mazama. There are no rivers flowing into or out of the lake; the evaporation is compensated for by rain and snowfall at a rate such that the total amount of water is replaced every 250 years. With a depth of 1,949 feet (594 m), the lake is the deepest in the United States. In the world, it ranks ninth for maximum depth, and third for mean (average) depth.

Crater Lake features two small islands. Wizard Island, located near the western shore of the lake, is a cinder cone approximately 316 acres (128 ha) in size. Phantom Ship, a natural rock pillar, is located near the southern shore. Read more...

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Hurricane Lili (1984).JPG

Hurricane Lili was one of only four Atlantic tropical cyclones on record to reach hurricane status in the month of December. The final of thirteen tropical storms in the 1984 Atlantic hurricane season, Lili developed as a subtropical cyclone which originated from a frontal trough to the south of Bermuda on December 12. It tracked southeastward, then northward, slowly attaining tropical characteristics and becoming a hurricane on December 20. Lili turned to the south and southwest, briefly threatening the northern Caribbean islands before weakening and dissipating near the coast of the Dominican Republic. The storm produced light rainfall but no damage. Read more...

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Turquoise is an opaque, blue-to-green mineral that is a hydrated phosphate of copper and aluminium, with the chemical formula CuAl6(PO4)4(OH)8·4H2O. It is rare and valuable in finer grades and has been prized as a gemstone and ornamental stone for thousands of years owing to its unique hue. In recent times, turquoise has been devalued, like most other opaque gems, by the introduction onto the market of treatments, imitations and synthetics.

The gemstone has been known by many names. Pliny the Elder referred to the mineral as callais (from Ancient Greek κάλαϊς) and the Aztecs knew it as chalchihuitl. The word turquoise dates to the 17th century and is derived from the French turquois meaning "Turkish" because the mineral was first brought to Europe through Turkey, from mines in the historical Khorasan Province of Persia. Read more...

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The tornado outbreak of April 6–8, 2006, was a major tornado outbreak in the central and parts of the southern United States that began on April 6, 2006, in the Great Plains and continued until April 8 in South Carolina, with most of the activity on April 7. The hardest-hit area was Middle Tennessee where several strong tornadoes devastated entire neighborhoods and left ten people dead. The worst damage took place in Gallatin, Tennessee. Other communities north of Nashville were also hard hit.

There were 73 tornadoes confirmed across 13 states, with the bulk of them coming on the afternoon and evening of April 7 across the South, particularly in Tennessee. In total, 10 deaths were reported as a result of the tornadoes, and over $650 million in damage was reported, of which over $630 million was in Middle Tennessee. It was the third major outbreak of 2006, occurring just days after another major outbreak on April 2. It was also considered to be the worst disaster event in Middle Tennessee since the Nashville Tornadoes of 1998 on April 16, 1998. Read more...

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The geography of Indonesia is dominated by volcanoes that are formed due to subduction zones between the Eurasian plate and the Indo-Australian plate.

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The Earth seen from Apollo 17.jpg

Earth is the third planet from the Sun, and the only astronomical object known to harbor life. According to radiometric dating and other sources of evidence, Earth formed over 4.5 billion years ago. Earth's gravity interacts with other objects in space, especially the Sun and the Moon, Earth's only natural satellite. Earth orbits around the Sun in 365.26 days, a period known as an Earth year. During this time, Earth rotates about its axis about 366.26 times.

Earth's axis of rotation is tilted with respect to its orbital plane, producing seasons on Earth. The gravitational interaction between Earth and the Moon causes tides, stabilizes Earth's orientation on its axis, and gradually slows its rotation. Earth is the densest planet in the Solar System and the largest and most massive of the four terrestrial planets. Read more...

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Charles Darwin seated crop.jpg

Charles Robert Darwin, FRS FRGS FLS FZS (/ˈdɑːrwɪn/; 12 February 1809 – 19 April 1882) was an English naturalist, geologist and biologist, best known for his contributions to the science of evolution.[I] His proposition that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestors is now widely accepted, and considered a foundational concept in science. In a joint publication with Alfred Russel Wallace, he introduced his scientific theory that this branching pattern of evolution resulted from a process that he called natural selection, in which the struggle for existence has a similar effect to the artificial selection involved in selective breeding.

Darwin published his theory of evolution with compelling evidence in his 1859 book On the Origin of Species. By the 1870s, the scientific community and a majority of the educated public had accepted evolution as a fact. However, many favoured competing explanations, and it was not until the emergence of the modern evolutionary synthesis from the 1930s to the 1950s that a broad consensus developed in which natural selection was the basic mechanism of evolution. Darwin's scientific discovery is the unifying theory of the life sciences, explaining the diversity of life. Read more...

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The Cretaceous–Paleogene (K–Pg) extinction event, also known as the Cretaceous–Tertiary (K–T) extinction, was a sudden mass extinction of some three-quarters of the plant and animal species on Earth, approximately 66 million years ago. With the exception of some ectothermic species such as the leatherback sea turtle and crocodiles, no tetrapods weighing more than 25 kilograms (55 lb) survived. It marked the end of the Cretaceous period and with it, the entire Mesozoic Era, opening the Cenozoic Era that continues today.

In the geologic record, the K–Pg event is marked by a thin layer of sediment called the K–Pg boundary, which can be found throughout the world in marine and terrestrial rocks. The boundary clay shows high levels of the metal iridium, which is rare in the Earth's crust, but abundant in asteroids. Read more...

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Archaeopteryx (/ˌɑːrkˈɒptərɪks/), meaning "old wing" (sometimes referred to by its German name Urvogel ("original bird" or "first bird")), is a genus of bird-like dinosaurs that is transitional between non-avian feathered dinosaurs and modern birds. The name derives from the ancient Greek ἀρχαῖος (archaīos) meaning "ancient", and πτέρυξ (ptéryx), meaning "feather" or "wing". Between the late nineteenth century and the early twenty-first century, Archaeopteryx had been generally accepted by palaeontologists and popular reference books as the oldest known bird (member of the group Avialae). Older potential avialans have since been identified, including Anchiornis, Xiaotingia, and Aurornis.

Archaeopteryx lived in the Late Jurassic around 150 million years ago, in what is now southern Germany during a time when Europe was an archipelago of islands in a shallow warm tropical sea, much closer to the equator than it is now. Similar in size to a Eurasian magpie, with the largest individuals possibly attaining the size of a raven, the largest species of Archaeopteryx could grow to about 0.5 m (1 ft 8 in) in length. Despite their small size, broad wings, and inferred ability to fly or glide, Archaeopteryx had more in common with other small Mesozoic dinosaurs than with modern birds. In particular, they shared the following features with the dromaeosaurids and troodontids: jaws with sharp teeth, three fingers with claws, a long bony tail, hyperextensible second toes ("killing claw"), feathers (which also suggest warm-bloodedness), and various features of the skeleton. Read more...

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Mary Anning (21 May 1799 – 9 March 1847) was an English fossil collector, dealer, and palaeontologist who became known around the world for important finds she made in Jurassic marine fossil beds in the cliffs along the English Channel at Lyme Regis in the county of Dorset in Southwest England. Her findings contributed to important changes in scientific thinking about prehistoric life and the history of the Earth.

Anning searched for fossils in the area's Blue Lias cliffs, particularly during the winter months when landslides exposed new fossils that had to be collected quickly before they were lost to the sea. She nearly died in 1833 during a landslide that killed her dog, Tray. Her discoveries included the first ichthyosaur skeleton correctly identified; the first two more complete plesiosaur skeletons found; the first pterosaur skeleton located outside Germany; and important fish fossils. Her observations played a key role in the discovery that coprolites, known as bezoar stones at the time, were fossilised faeces. She also discovered that belemnite fossils contained fossilised ink sacs like those of modern cephalopods. When geologist Henry De la Beche painted Duria Antiquior, the first widely circulated pictorial representation of a scene from prehistoric life derived from fossil reconstructions, he based it largely on fossils Anning had found, and sold prints of it for her benefit. Read more...

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