Extinction event  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

An extinction event (also known as: mass extinction, extinction-level event (ELE), or biotic crisis) is a widespread and rapid decrease in the amount of life on earth. Such an event is identified by a sharp change in the diversity and abundance of macroscopic life. It occurs when the rate of extinction increases with respect to the rate of speciation. Because the majority of diversity and biomass on Earth is microbial, and thus difficult to measure, recorded extinction events affect the easily observed, biologically complex component of the biosphere rather than the total diversity and abundance of life.

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