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Was the great oxygenation event a mass extinction?
Although many biology sources state this as a fact, the evidence isn't that strong. Nick Lane put it like this:
Microbes are not equivalent to large animals: their population sizes are enormously larger, and they pass around useful genes (such as those for antibiotic resistance) by lateral transfer, making them very much less vulnerable to extinction. There is no hint of any microbial extinction even in the aftermath of the Great Oxygenation Event. The 'oxygen holocaust', which supposedly wiped out most anaerobic cells, can't be traced at all; there is no evidence from either phylogenetics or geochemistry that such an extinction ever took place. On the contrary, anaerobes prospered.
Hmmm. Well, the Great Oxygenation Event article mentions "Free oxygen is toxic to obligate anaerobic organisms, and the rising concentrations may have destroyed most such organisms at the time", which is a textbook example of a mass extinction. And, at the same time, anaerobic organisms ceased to be the dominant form of life on Earth, much like most people accept that the dinosaurs "went extinct" despite the fact that a small number survived. So, this may be an unusual case, where the cause of the extinction is undisputed but its existence is in doubt. Oiyarbepsy (talk) 20:40, 7 April 2018 (UTC)
It's not a canonical mass extinction because it's inferred from biology, and not observed in the fossil record. As such it's of no use to paleontologists in dating strata, which was the original purpose of studying the others. Putting it in the same table with the others involves some level of SYN. Geogene (talk) 22:20, 7 April 2018 (UTC)
On what basis is a presence in the fossil record a required part of a mass extinction? Isn't it merely the extinction of a large amount of life? It's hardly synthesis to say that an event where massive amounts of life went extinct is a mass extinction. Oiyarbepsy (talk) 22:45, 7 April 2018 (UTC)
I disagree. Where in the paleontology textbooks is this oxygenation event included alongside the Big Five? Geogene (talk) 23:00, 7 April 2018 (UTC)
An historical context section is missing. When did the concept of 'mass extinction' or 'extinction event' first appear? By whom was it put forward? What evidence or dicovery brough the idea to the fore? How did it evolve to the modern understanding? Urhixidur (talk) 02:13, 2 October 2018 (UTC)