Australia Fires Could Lead to ‘Mass Extinction’ Just Like the Dinosaurs Scientist Warns
THE wildfires ravaging Australia could lead to a “mass extinction” of species which could take millions of years to recover from, a scientist has warned.
Thousands of homes have been destroyed, tens of people have lost their lives and half a billion animals have died as a result of wildfires across Australia. Authorities in Australia say the dire situation could continue for another month, leading to a catastrophic loss of life. And judging by previous cataclysmic fires, researchers warn that a mass extinction in Australia could ensue which could take millions of years to recover from.
By analysing previous wildfires, most notably the one which consumed the globe following the asteroid strike which led to the dinosaurs’ demise 66 million years ago, it will be difficult for many species to survive.
Following the asteroid collision, 75 percent of species across the planet went extinct thanks to the ensuing nuclear winter and fires which virtually left no corner of the globe untouched.
Mike Lee, professor in evolutionary biology at Flinders University, Australia, said that “ every land-dwelling animal species larger than a domestic cat was ultimately doomed, unless it could swim, burrow or fly.”
This could mean that famous Australian species such as the kangaroo and koala bears could be doomed if the fires continue as they are.
While the wildfires in Australia are regional rather than global and much less severe than the extinction event 66 million years ago, the “long-term extinction effects could be severe”, Prof Lee warned.
He added that it could pave the way for entirely new species to emerge, much like how the loss of the dinosaurs gave way to the rise of the mammals.
The scientist wrote in an article for The Conversation: “Humans have seldom if ever seen fires like these, but we do know that wildfires have driven mass extinctions and reshaped life on Earth at least once before – when the asteroid strike that led to the demise of the dinosaurs sparked deadly global firestorms.
“The recent rampant bushfires are regional rather than global, and are burning less land cover than the worst-case dinosaur firestorm scenario.
“Yet their long-term extinction effects could also be severe, because our planet has already lost half its forest cover due to humans.
“These fires are hitting shrunken biodiversity refuges that are simultaneously threatened by an anthropogenic cocktail of pollution, invasive feral species, and climate change.
“The ancient catastrophe provides strong evidence, written in stone, that firestorms can contribute to extensive extinctions, even among large vertebrates with large distributions and high mobility.
“It took millions of years of regeneration and evolution for our planet’s biosphere to recover from the nuclear winter and wildfires of the asteroid impact.
“When a new world order eventually emerged, it was radically different: the age of dinosaurs gave way to the age of mammals and birds.”