- John Gallop
Biases in 6th mass extinction event?
According the fossil record the earth has exhibited 5 mass extinctions and we are currently undergoing, according the masses, the biggest extinction in earths history (the 6th mass extinction)! However, no one has ever mentioned possible biases in this information that may make it seem more organisms are going extinct compared to previous mass extinctions based on the fossil record.
For a fossil to form, there is a select set of conditions needed for fossilization to occur (moisture, mud etc) and in that respect not everything fossilizes thus, there is a lot about previous ecological communities and community composition, species abundance and community structure that we can not view based on the limitted information provided by the fossil record.
Now we are in the 21st century, the first time in history where humans can observe this mass extinction and apparently species extinction rate is off the roof and reaching numbers never seen before! However, I have neve heard one adress that maybe the reason why these extinction rates are soo high compared to previous extinctions is due to us actually being around in this era visualy observing this mass extinction. Now in this era we are not just solely using the fossil record to determine mass extinction rates but we are actually visualy observing these events. As opposed to previous mass extinctions we are using more tools than the fossil record to determine extinction rates. By having more "tools" (visualing witnessing extinctions, live sampling etc) we are gaining more data and information that solely the fossil record could not provide. It is the use of these multiple tools which give us a more accurate view of these mass extinctions which can result in having higher extinction rates for this era as opposed to previous records. I am in no way saying we aren't undergoing a mass extinction however, I am just addressing possible biases that scientist seem to never adress.