Knowledge for a sustainable world

Professor Andrew Gale, working with Andrew Smith and Neale Monks of the Natural History Museum, has been the subject of a Science Magazine 'News Focus' published yesterday, because the group's research has cast doubts on the Cenomanian-Turonian (C-T) mass extinction of 94 million years ago.

The team has discovered certain echinoderm fossil species, mainly sea urchins, formed in the Cretaceous period, millions of years after they were thought to have become extinct. "This is going to shake up the Paleo world for a while," says palaeontologist Lisa Park of the University of Akron in Ohio.

The team believes that the magnitude of extinctions has been over-estimated due to an emphasis on the fossil records in Western Europe and in the western interior of North America. A more widely-based global assessment is required to improve our understanding of the scale and even the existence of mass extinctions.

See 'Science Magazine' Vol. 293, 10 August 2001.