One of Earth’s biggest mass extinctions caused by rising sea levels in eerie echo of today –

The Devonian period is also known as the Age of Fishes. Here, we see the fish Dunkleosteus preying on eurypterids (sea scorpions), which in turn were feeding on the smaller trilobites.  (Image credit: Aunt_Spray via Getty Images)

Depleting oxygen and rising hydrogen sulfide levels in the oceans may have been responsible for one of Earth’s most significant mass extinctions more than 350 million years ago, a new study finds. The changes were likely driven by rising sea levels and have some spooky parallels to conditions seen today.

Researchers studied samples of black shale from the Bakken Formation, a 200,000-square-mile (518,000 square kilometers) region partly laid down during the late Devonian that encompasses parts of North Dakota and Canada and is one of the largest contiguous deposits of natural gas and oil (opens in new tab) in the United States. The team found evidence that Earth experienced periods of oxygen depletion and hydrogen sulfide expansion, which likely contributed to the sweeping extinction events that ravaged Earth during the Devonian period (419.2 and 358.9 million years ago), or the “Age of Fishes.” 

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