A toxic gas wave may have wiped out half of all marine life in Earth’s first mass extinction

About 530 million years ago, the planet teemed with life after Cambrian explosion, when most large animal groups we see today began to appear in the fossil record. Most of this abundance was concentrated in the oceans, which were rich in fantastic creatures such as armadillos trilobitesa three foot long shrimp and worms bristling with vicious spikes.

But the fossil record shows that just 20 years later, something wiped out 45% of all the animals in the ocean. This great extinction event caused destruction on an unprecedented scale.

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