Artificial Intelligence Discovers Surprising Patterns in Earth’s Biological Mass Extinctions

Visualize Life's History

A new study applies machine learning to the fossil record to visualize life’s history, showing the impacts of major evolutionary events. This shows the long-term evolutionary and ecological impacts of major events of extinction and speciation. Colors represent the geological periods from the Tonian, starting 1 billion years ago, in yellow, to the current Quaternary Period, shown in green. The red to blue color transition marks the end-Permian mass extinction, one of the most disruptive events in the fossil record. Credit: J. Hoyal Cuthill and N. Guttenberg

The idea that mass extinctions allow many new types of species to evolve is a central concept in evolution, but a new study using artificial intelligence to examine the fossil record finds this is rarely true, and there must be another explanation.

Charles Darwin’s landmark opus, On the Origin of the Species, ends with a beautiful summary of his theory of evolution, “There is a grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.”

In fact, scientists now know that most species that have ever existed are extinct. This extinction of species has on the whole been roughly balanced by the origination of new ones over Earth’s history, with a few major temporary imbalances scientists call mass extinction events. Scientists have long believed that mass extinctions create productive periods of species evolution, or “radiations,” a model called “creative destruction.” A new study led by scientists affiliated with the Earth-Life Science Institute (ELSI) at Tokyo Institute of Technology used machine learning to examine the co-occurrence of fossil species and found that radiations and extinctions are rarely connected, and thus mass extinctions likely rarely cause radiations of a comparable scale.

Creative destruction is central to classic concepts of evolution. It seems clear that there are periods in which suddenly many species suddenly disappear, and many new species suddenly appear. However, radiations of a comparable scale to the mass extinctions, which this study, therefore, calls the mass radiations, have received far less analysis than extinction events.

This study compared the impacts of both extinction and radiation across the period for which fossils are available, the so-called Phanerozoic Eon. The Phanerozoic (from the Greek meaning “apparent life”), represents the most recent ~ 550-million-year period of Earth’s total ~4.5 billion-year history, and is significant to paleontologists: before this period most of the organisms that existed were microbes that didn’t easily form fossils, so the prior evolutionary record is hard to observe.

The new study suggests creative destruction isn’t a good description of how species originated or went extinct during the Phanerozoic, and suggests that many of the most remarkable times of evolutionary radiation occurred when life entered new evolutionary and ecological arenas, such as during the Cambrian explosion of animal diversity and the Carboniferous expansion of forest biomes. Whether this is true for the previous ~ 3 billion years dominated by microbes is not known, as the scarcity of recorded information on such ancient diversity did not allow a similar analysis.

Paleontologists have identified a handful of the most severe, mass extinction events in the Phanerozoic fossil record. These principally include the big five mass extinctions, such as the end-Permian mass extinction in which more than 70% of species are estimated to have gone extinct. Biologists have now suggested that we may now be entering a “Sixth Mass Extinction,” which they think is mainly caused by human activity including hunting and land-use changes caused by the expansion of agriculture. A commonly noted example of the previous “Big Five” mass extinctions is the Cretaceous-Tertiary one (usually abbreviated as “K-T,” using the German spelling of Cretaceous) which appears to have been caused when a meteor hit Earth ~65 million years ago, wiping out the non-avian dinosaurs.

Observing the fossil record, scientists came to believe that mass extinction events create especially productive radiations. For example, in the K-T dinosaur-exterminating event, it has conventionally been supposed that a wasteland was created, which allowed organisms like mammals to recolonize and “radiate,” allowing for the evolution of all manner of new mammal species, ultimately laying the foundation for the emergence of humans. In other words, if the K-T event of “creative destruction” had not occurred, perhaps we would not be here to discuss this question.

The new study started with a casual discussion in ELSI’s “Agora,” a large common room where ELSI scientists and visitors often eat lunch and strike up new conversations. Two of the paper’s authors, evolutionary biologist Jennifer Hoyal Cuthill (now a research fellow at the University of Essex in the UK) and physicist/machine learning expert Nicholas Guttenberg (now a research scientist at Cross Labs working in collaboration with GoodAI in the Czech Republic), who were both post-doctoral scholars at ELSI when the work began, were kicking around the question of whether machine learning could be used to visualize and understand the fossil record.

During a visit to ELSI, just before the COVID-19 pandemic began to restrict international travel, they worked feverishly to extend their analysis to examine the correlation between extinction and radiation events. These discussions allowed them to relate their new data to the breadth of existing ideas on mass extinctions and radiations. They quickly found that the evolutionary patterns identified with the help of machine learning differed in key ways from traditional interpretations.

The team used a novel application of machine learning to examine the temporal co-occurrence of species in the Phanerozoic fossil record, examining over a million entries in a massive curated, public database including almost two hundred thousand species.

Lead author Dr. Hoyal Cuthill said, “Some of the most challenging aspects of understanding the history of life are the enormous timescales and numbers of species involved. New applications of machine learning can help by allowing us to visualize this information in a human-readable form. This means we can, so to speak, hold half a billion years of evolution in the palms of our hands, and gain new insights from what we see.”

Using their objective methods, they found that the “big five” mass extinction events previously identified by paleontologists were picked up by the machine learning methods as being among the top 5% of significant disruptions in which extinction outpaced radiation or vice versa, as were seven additional mass extinctions, two combined mass extinction-radiation events, and fifteen mass radiations. Surprisingly, in contrast to previous narratives emphasizing the importance of post-extinction radiations, this work found that the most comparable mass radiations and extinctions were only rarely coupled in time, refuting the idea of a causal relationship between them.

Co-author Dr. Nicholas Guttenberg said, “The ecosystem is dynamic, you don’t necessarily have to chip an existing piece off to allow something new to appear.”

The team further found that radiations may in fact cause major changes to existing ecosystems, an idea the authors call “destructive creation.” They found that, during the Phanerozoic Eon, on average, the species that made up an ecosystem at any one time are almost all gone by 19 million years later. But when mass extinctions or radiations occur, this rate of turnover is much higher.

This gives a new perspective on how the modern “Sixth Extinction” is occurring. The Quaternary period, which began 2.5 million years ago, had witnessed repeated climate upheavals, including dramatic alternations of glaciation, times when high latitude locations on Earth, were ice-covered. This means that the present “Sixth Extinction” is eroding biodiversity that was already disrupted, and the authors suggest it will take at least 8 million years for it to revert to the long term average of 19 million years. Dr. Hoyal Cuthill comments that “each extinction that happens on our watch erases a species, which may have existed for millions of years up to now, making it harder for the normal process of ‘new species origination’ to replace what is being lost.”

Reference: “Impacts of speciation and extinction measured by an evolutionary decay clock” by Jennifer F. Hoyal Cuthill, Nicholas Guttenberg and Graham E. Budd, 9 December 2020, Nature.
DOI: 10.1038/s41586-020-3003-4

93 Comments on "Artificial Intelligence Discovers Surprising Patterns in Earth’s Biological Mass Extinctions"

  1. Carolyn L Zaremba | December 13, 2020 at 1:37 pm | Reply

    Why don’t you have a printer-friendly option for your articles? I like to print out and keep important articles for future reference.

    • There are 2 ways you can print a web page: 1. You either select those three dots in your browser (in the corner usually) and choose the “print” option, or if you are browsing on PC or any device with keyboard, I am pretty sure there is a fricking shortcut for it.

    • It’s not just me then, good lol

    • Right click on page. Chose “PDF” as your printer. This saves this page as a PDF file in the folder of your choice. Save paper, save trees.

    • You don’t need to print them you can just save the article as pdf to your computer. Please don’t be the typical elderly person who wastes a bunch of paper printing things they never need only for other people to have to come and throw away later.

      • Please don’t be the typical insensitive Millennial or other youthful offender that does not consider access to personal vs group computers in group living settings. Furthermore, there is also the issue of comfort – reading a larger print document in a more comfortable seating environment, something my years of hard work helping my partner to raise our family has certainly entitled us to… So the next time you decide to disrespect your elders, remember that basic rule I’m fairly sure your parents taught you!

        • Sounds like the trees can’t wait until people like you are long gone.

          • Why are you so mean, Karen?

          • Torbjörn Larsson | December 15, 2020 at 2:38 pm |

            “Karen”?! But the question is why Corbin makes it personal and why John D takes it personal.

            Saving resources is a good idea, but I can’t remember if the web actually saves or waste. Life cycle analyses are hard to come by.

            That said, electronic media is statistically better (improved understanding and retention).

      • It’s cute how you think only the elderly print articles. I would like to introduce you to some young thugs killing forests of trees.

      • William Cuthbertson | December 15, 2020 at 7:46 am | Reply

        I save them, who in the world wants all that paper hanging around in your house. I have library’s of info hanging around in my back pocket.

  2. Terribly-written article. The important material is near the end. The first third is all stuff that should be at the bottom. Why can’t people write anymore?

    • Why can’t ‘journalists’ use proper grammar? “Extinct” is a state of being, not an activity. That is to say, it is proper to say someone “went skiing.” However, it is not proper to say something “went extinct.” They should write “became extinct” or “is extinct,” or “experienced extinction.”

      • You’ve hit the nail on the head, I’m afraid.

      • You’re probably the least liked person here. No one cares about these minor differences in grammar. Species are going extinct and you care more about supposed grammar issues.

      • Torbjörn Larsson | December 14, 2020 at 8:24 am | Reply

        I don’t think anyone should expect journalists hired at a university press office, they are office workers.

        On the general question, a press release is intended to inform scientists primarily, but they try to make it understandable to a wider audience. It is often the scientists that makes the raw drafts. In this case the good stuff starts at “This study compared …” after the initial context making.

        But yes, you could likely change the order of that. Then other people would complain about the illogical order et cetera.

      • Dominic J Commisso | December 14, 2020 at 9:49 am | Reply

        Improper use of commas in the last sentence, and double “or”s. “That is to say” should be followed up with a “;”. You’re a simple fool who can’t keep to your own standards in a 3 sentence reply to that of which you expect from an entire article. I would sarcastically insinuate you must be fun at parties, but you would have to be invited to one first.

  3. Good Article. GOd has provided Super (and continous) computers to continue the speculaton game.

  4. I really liked that you specifically mentioned the cause of the on going sixth mass extinction is hunters and farmers. The country folk are ruining the planet. What a novel concept.

    • In the end we hunters and farmers will eat you.

    • Hunters are the first to understand the rate of population growth or lackof it. How much time do you spend in the wilderness?

    • C’mon now. Stop it. If you can’t figure out he’s talking about whales, elephants, sharks, etc. ocean bottom scrapping mass fishing.
      The clearing of equatorial forest for agricultural palm trees and grazing land are direct reason for the disappearance of 100s of species per year.
      You are being ridiculous.

    • Why aren’t you blaming lions (meat eaters) and elephants (vegetarians), who never bother to regrow what they’ve eaten?

    • Torbjörn Larsson | December 14, 2020 at 8:34 am | Reply

      ? They complicated that idea of yours.

      “Biologists have now suggested that we may now be entering a “Sixth Mass Extinction,” which they think is mainly caused by human activity including hunting and land-use changes caused by the expansion of agriculture. ”

      “This gives a new perspective on how the modern “Sixth Extinction” is occurring. The Quaternary period, which began 2.5 million years ago, had witnessed repeated climate upheavals, including dramatic alternations of glaciation, times when high latitude locations on Earth, were ice-covered. This means that the present “Sixth Extinction” is eroding biodiversity that was already disrupted, …”

      It is but recently that observations implied there is a current (much) increased extinction rate, or that some of the extinctions since the last glaciation has been man forced (taking place on islands after people came there, say).

  5. Margaret keeler | December 13, 2020 at 8:44 pm | Reply

    Hunters and farmers comment…lmao ei ei ooo🤣

  6. Darwin’s famous opus is called “On the Origin of Species” not “the Species.” It tells you that the author of this article is unfamiliar with that book.

    • Torbjörn Larsson | December 14, 2020 at 8:35 am | Reply

      They are both common short hands. The complete title is “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life”.

  7. The meteor did not kill the dinosaurs they were dead before it hit. Dr Baker stated they find the iridium level and dig down below it to find the type of dinosaur they are looking for from 6 in to 8 ft below the iridium level left by the meteor.

    • Torbjörn Larsson | December 14, 2020 at 8:53 am | Reply

      The consensus is that the impactor did the deed [“Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event” @ Wikipedia].

      If you mean Robert Bakker, he makes a lot of claims [“Robert T. Bakker” @ Wikipedia]. The criticism is old [“DINOSAUR EXPERTS RESIST METEOR EXTINCTION IDEA”, NYT, 1985]. A sediment sequence that shows what you request is believed to have been found last year [“The Day the Dinosaurs Died”, NYT, 2019].

  8. Do we need AI for this? Between early Earth’s soup and micro-organisms are 4 billion years. Then add another billion for evolution of high forms. Wipe high forms out again. Now the empty space in biotopes and food hierarchies can be filled by the same principles or diversification. The latter is not fast, too. Takes a long time of isolation for new race to become a species that cannot interbreed with former relatives anymore. The data and AI seem to confirm this. That may be scientifically important but the qualitative reasoning should have been part of the biology class since just after Darwin.

    • Torbjörn Larsson | December 14, 2020 at 8:56 am | Reply

      Yes, besides that AI is helpful to see what we cannot, the paper showed that it happened here. A counter-intutitive result is that the – decidedly asynchronous – mass radiation and mass extinction events are both upsetting the constant process rate. That is new.

      And you can’t really handle 1+ million events with paper and pen…

  9. Have YOU ate today or your children if so have you thanked your local farmer didn’t think so. Idiot

  10. Have you or your kids ate today? Have you ever thanked a farmer for the food. Maybe you should before you go extinct. Post the comment or your mag ain’t worth the read. # farmer

  11. Astonishing posts, Mr. Berry. But thanks for the food, anyway.

  12. Terrible article. Horrible grammar. Old news. This has been taught in biology since the 90s. Talk about gatcha news. UNSUBSCRIBE

    • Torbjörn Larsson | December 14, 2020 at 8:57 am | Reply

      ? No, it is entirely new – read the paper.

    • Jonathan Chhangur | December 14, 2020 at 10:58 am | Reply

      I’m assuming you mean that mass extinction did not always precede mass radiation in the way Darwin asserted. If so, could you let me know any info on who held this position on the matter prior to this study conducted with the help of AI?

      It interests me to see the method by which this was deduced or reasoning that was applied in coming to this conclusion that didn’t rely on AI.

      • Torbjörn Larsson | December 15, 2020 at 2:42 pm | Reply

        Ah, thanks – that could be the context. I’m too much of a bioinformatician by training to know all the history (i.e. I’m still bad as a biologist).

  13. Wow, so many English and Bio majors in the comments! Why leave a hostile comment over one or two sentences that made you angry? Is it really necessary or worth doing just to insult someone for telling you a bit of information? The article is about the use of AI to sort information, and how it helped to simplify the message that mass extinctions didn’t necessarily aid in a boom of new species, that evolution didn’t need a loss of life to spur it into happening, and that humans are responsible for forcing nature’s hand in terms of how quickly these processes typically take place. It’s a fact that clearing forests and changing landscapes creates a different environment, thus different species can exist there, as well as that humans have hunted animals to extinction. Sorry if that’s annoying to hear, but it’s literally happening in real-time right now, so… It’s not necessary to be insulting to anyone simply because you wanted the article to tell you something different, or it gave more background info about the people or topic than you cared to read. Was the extra minute spent reading worth the 3 spent complaining about it? So remember to act like proper adults and be respectful, please!

    • Torbjörn Larsson | December 14, 2020 at 9:00 am | Reply


    • AintScienceGreat | December 14, 2020 at 9:25 am | Reply

      Finally! Someone with common sense. Couldn’t agree more. If I want to read a technical journal abstract, I will.

    • Haven’t you heard? The latest pandemic is causing this. Seems a bunch of people went to a large group cult meeting to worship their demigogue, with ultra-fast flashing overhead lights containing a “secret” wavelength that selectively stimulates the religiopoliticum umbrelicus region of the subtemporal strata in the brain, causing the neuro-regeneration cycle to break down, and cause synaptic peptidal flow in reverse direction eventually leading to disruption of the DNA-RNA matching process and a new form of viral-induced cancer.
      They call this viral infection “magatitis”. It leads the infected host to believe in hallucinations of self supremacy, denial of reality, and disruptive angry outbursts, among other negative symptoms.

      • Batman does grammer | December 15, 2020 at 8:26 am | Reply

        Isn’t that spelled “umbrellicus”?
        And shouldn’t there be a ; not a , in the phrase:
        cycle to break down, and cause

      • I heard that they filled the balloons at the convention with Nitrous-Oxide and Krypton gasses (since Helium is getting so rare and expensive now-a-days) and some kids there were huffing them and getting high. Then an adult caught them and tried it and then they were all doing it. It was the Krypton gas that combined with sulphur-dioxide from a nearby coal-burning power-plant (those magats worship those things as sacred temples, you know) in a so-far mysterious way (it is suggested that other gasses were present in the arena’s air also – specifically hot methane) that started the chain reaction in their brains.
        I heard this from a guy who calls himself ZZ-bottom on an truly free social media website that doesn’t play sensorship games with its users. He is just a low-level database manager for the Russian military, and he’s not authorized to release the all info, so he’s only outlined it so far, but he plans on dumping all the stuff to infowars for them to publish as soon as he can get a pass into Honduras for political asylum.
        As far as I’m concerned, if this is right, they should all be just eliminated. We should NEVER tolerate drug users in our society, especially when they start trying to overturn democracy itself in their delusional state of mind. Either take em out at dawn and shoot them and then draw and quarter them, or simply behead them. Like all drug users should have done to them. Too much wasted tax dollars on lifetime sentences for drug users.

  14. Torbjörn Larsson | December 14, 2020 at 7:55 am | Reply

    I find this paper impressive data wise and its data derived model intriguing.

    It uses species co-location over time, so the normalized data decay clock is observing a shared fraction of species (co-occurrence probability) or the average decay rate of “macroevolutionary structure”. This supports a Red Queen model of evolutionary rate with an apparently constant change rate from internal and external mechanisms of 18.6 Myrs for the last 0.5 Gyrs of complex species.

    A counter-intutitive result is that the – decidedly asynchronous – mass radiation and mass extinction events (defined by the normalized co-location becoming < 0.1) are both upsetting the constant process rate. To wit, "… evolutionary radiations also cause comparable decay by diluting a pre-existing species set, thereby decreasing the co-occurrence probability …"

    "In this sense, mass radiations (Fig. 3, Table 1) can be as destructive to existing species sets (and potentially, therefore, to the ecological communities within this maximal envelope) as major extinction events. Consequently, the decay clock has been periodically reset throughout Phanerozoic history by both extinctions and radiations (Fig. 2)."

    • Hey, I love your reasoning & points of view, but you’ve gotta stop misspelling “intuitive”… (at least twice now, one too many ‘t’s).
      But it’s great to observe your rational perspective and I really do appreciate the extra science-based information you bring to this thread!

      • Torbjörn Larsson | December 15, 2020 at 2:46 pm | Reply

        Thanks! A second language isn’t intuitive to me.

        But that pops up to me too now that I reread the comment, so I guess it is rather my (too) rapid typing – made too many comments too late at night – and the spell checker lights up the word so I guess I prepared it in a subpar editor. Mea culpa.

  15. Scientists based their findings upon radiation and carbon inside of Earth. Which is error. Because there are 10 different plants in regards to Ether. In which dark matter was realize. There exists substances that science cannot grasp. Which is the ninety percent materials responsible for creation. Therefore, the biological clock for all the materials used is manifested error and the periodic table is false. People are easily confused and misled. GOD and the Angel’s ( extra terrestrial beings exist ). And the technology those beings have indicates the existence of substances that humanity cannot fathom. Henceforth the Earth is disrupting and within 60 years a massive eruption shall occur. It is renewing. Thus, the creation of a new atmosphere ( Heaven ) and new landmass . Which substantiates revelations foretelling of a massive Fire from below. So the world scientists should be preparing the world for this development.

    • Torbjörn Larsson | December 14, 2020 at 9:01 am | Reply

      Superstition – obvious erroneous claims.

    • Torbjörn Larsson | December 14, 2020 at 9:03 am | Reply

      Oops, I was closing down this window when I saw a new one – the claim that the element table is wrong. That is some serious lack of education you express there.

      • Wow. That whack job you were responding to was stunningly mis-educated. Or non-educated… Or something.
        Why is it the the most insistently vociferous magical thinkers yell the loudest and are the most aggressively, absolutely certain of their “knowledge”, even when their spelling, grammar and overall coherence flutter at the fringes of barely-readable comprehensibility?

        There’s gotta be a PhD thesis in there for anyone wanting to essay a study on a topic like “Peak Dunning-Kruger Effect”.

        It appears a certain US leader caused or enabled a vast flowering of that effect over the last four years. It may take generations to die down again.

        • Torbjörn Larsson | December 15, 2020 at 2:56 pm | Reply

          I haven’t seen the statistics. But assuming it is a US citizen – which the superstition and, as you note, barely comprehensible rant, suggest – it could be homeschooling combined with cult brainwashing. The same faulty, most often non-sequitur, theological arguments would infect the herd from its top cultists up to once a week I hear (and in social settings in between of course).

          On the last part, the death cult branch of the major US superstition seems to have come together in a last “Pray Mary” so to speak. The problem may be that it un-democratized one of the two large parties in the US two-party system.

  16. Fielding Mellish | December 14, 2020 at 8:52 am | Reply

    Me too, I ate one sour too…

  17. Michael J McGinn | December 14, 2020 at 9:07 am | Reply

    It’s On the Origin of Species
    The Origin of THE Species

    It wasn’t about humans

    • Torbjörn Larsson | December 15, 2020 at 3:06 pm | Reply

      The complete title is “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life”.

      Of course it was about all species – it is a process on generational changing populations and has no specific constraints on its outcome population objects. As anyone can do, the open genome database site NCBI provides sequencing data that I have selected a protein gene from, BLAST aligned over several taxons that can range from bacteria to humans, and imported the resulting alignment into a free treeing web site (I suggest RAxML) and successfully tested that all life evolved from a universal common ancestor – as already Darwin proposed.

      “Darwin proposes sexual selection, driven by competition between males for mates, to explain sexually dimorphic features such as lion manes, deer antlers, peacock tails, bird songs, and the bright plumage of some male birds.[127] He analysed sexual selection more fully in The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex (1871).” [“On the Origin of Species” @ Wikipedia]

      “The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex is a book by English naturalist Charles Darwin, first published in 1871, which applies evolutionary theory to human evolution, and details his theory of sexual selection, a form of biological adaptation distinct from, yet interconnected with, natural selection. The book discusses many related issues, including evolutionary psychology, evolutionary ethics, differences between human races, differences between sexes, the dominant role of women in mate choice, and the relevance of the evolutionary theory to society.” [“The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex” @ Wikipedia]

    • Torbjörn Larsson | December 15, 2020 at 3:08 pm | Reply

      I should add, in case it was not obvious, that both evolution and descent from a universal common ancestor is today both well tested theory and robust observational facts.

  18. Thefact are, for me, i knew less before reading this, i seem to know more now, having read it. I also know that a education, and the lack of what seems to be wny education, as well as a grassp on reality, does not help us communicate in a manner that brings us together. I see so much possibility for comming together only to see it blasted from both, or all 3 sides. Please keep up the good work, never stop asking questions, and dont let the fear of change from old men and women like me slow you down.

    Ps. Sorry about the spelling and grammer i hope the extratime spent in schoolwill help you figure it out, to everyone else, try harder. Lol

    Thank you for taking the time to even post this for people like me. Please never stop.

  19. Wow!! So many interesting things here to read. 😊

  20. Supamo Gao Puranto | December 14, 2020 at 10:52 am | Reply

    Solar Red Giant and follow on White Dwarf will make all of this irrelevant and move the Goldilocks zone temporarily to Saturn. Mars exploration and colonization a wasted effort.

  21. All life forms in the fossil records indicate that all life forms were found hole in form suggesting creation everything reproduces according to its kind just like God says in the Bible. And that is a fact

    • Torbjörn Larsson | December 15, 2020 at 3:13 pm | Reply

      That is not a fact, and that is a fact – those claims of yours is superstition and you asserting something unsupportable by simple reading the myth texts and the science papers.

      And please stop it with the ‘gods’ nonsense – there are no omnipotent magic either in the universe or initially acting on it says simple observation since 2018. (Cosmological flat space, i.e. no room for magic and the universe as a result of a spontaneous adiabatic free expansion process to boot.)

  22. General Animal agriculture, any form of carnism, and bad people in politics and companies are the reason for most bad stuff.

    • Torbjörn Larsson | December 15, 2020 at 3:30 pm | Reply

      Is “carnism” acting as other carnivores?! But while that was likely a prime factor for our evolution to humans once, we are more omnivores – and vegetables are more resource effective. So eat as much of that as you can.

  23. Education seems counter intuitive to the human condition. Thinking we know is easier than putting in the time to be sure we do. Learning the hard way is ultimately a process of evolution itself.
    We seem to learn just a little bit too late.
    Keep your minds open to the obvious and take it from there.
    We are after all, just a bunch of animals to another species or “advanced” life form… Suitable for ?

  24. All I can see in the comments I read here (I didn’t read all of them), is conceit on parade. Everyone having to be on top… stupidly trying to show they’re the smartest. Hypocrisy. Each of you ought to feel shame for your conduct. I’m ashamed of my conceit, conceit which I confess I am, because it stinks, conceit does, whether in others or in me. It would be nice not to be conceit. Which no one is good enough to vanquish, and is all the more conceited if thinking they can. Judge impartially, humbly, for yourself and see. Be sure to be the first one you test, or you’ll be too blinded with conceited pride to judge truthfully the state of anyone else, and will only condemn yourself. Which I am not innocent of. We have all fallen short of being good. I would never have been able to know this if not for J.C., the only One who ever got it right, the only One who is righteous. Test impartially, see for yourself. As a good scientist purportedly would. If you dare. Hypocrites will only pretend to. Only the false fear the truth–the truth has no fear of the false. Now I suppose the fangs will be bared… False hates true. That’s what got Him crucified. Us.

    • Torbjörn Larsson | December 15, 2020 at 3:16 pm | Reply

      Likely not “trying to show they’re the smartest.”

      And in any case, since you can’t know in individual cases, why not use the old social adage to be nice – assume comments for what they are – instead of ranting?

  25. Education seems counter intuitive to the human condition. We think we know rather than to put in the time necessary to really know. Learning the hard way is a very integral part of evolution. We are after all, just a bunch of animals to another species or “advanced” life form… suitable for ?

  26. The comments are better than the article itself. Grammar and spelling are important. That’s all I have to share.

  27. So, lemme get this straight; I’m supposed to be worried about species becoming extinct, which would clear the way for new/improved species to appear. Did I miss anything? The dodo bird is gone, it served no useful purpose anymore. We now have large turkeys to feed us. The aurochs are gone, now we have good, stout black angus for meat, and jerseys for milk. I fail to see the problem here. Get off your high horses (pun intended) and stop this stupidity. We work hard to pay for our food to feed our families. Stop telling us not to eat. You are all a bunch of self loving nihilists. Population control is what you are all about. Same with this china virus corona hoax.

    • cr
      cyril coroner pittsburgh agrees

    • Torbjörn Larsson | December 15, 2020 at 3:27 pm | Reply

      “I’m supposed to be worried about species becoming extinct, which would clear the way for new/improved species to appear.”

      Where did you get that idea from? Evolution is not goal directed, if anything improvement is relative current circumstances. The paper shows that time horizon to be ~ 19 million years.

      So what worries people that, as you say are trying to provide food for the world – scientists, which are not nihilists as shown by such intentions – is that food species et cetera will go away and we won’t get replacements – biodicersity is lost. ” This means that the present “Sixth Extinction” is eroding biodiversity that was already disrupted, and the authors suggest it will take at least 8 million years for it to revert to the long term average of 19 million years.”

      How someone can claim that the global pandemic which has taken 1,639,535 lives as of today [worldometers] is a hoax, or that such a grave disease – covid-19 – is erroneously labeled, is beyond me. Re education and how the world needs it.

      Also, relevance?

  28. Great article, too bad they didn’t investigate the species disappearing because the earth is flat. They walk off, where do they go?

    • Torbjörn Larsson | December 15, 2020 at 3:31 pm | Reply

      It’s only flat on local scale. The world is more interesting than that (snce round planets show how gravity acts).


  30. This was a good read even though I don’t believe everything I read.I disagree just to disagree if I didn’t see it happen then it have to be Proven to me not just because someone said it is true.In my life time I don’t think we will ever learn the truth of evolution.

  31. China virus carona hoax? Don’t be a mindless parrot, mendel. Trump admitted back in February he lied about it being a hoax due to not wanting to cause mass panic. It’s on tape in his interview with Woodward. Just another lie because he wanted everyone to get infected so his investment with Pfizer could make more money since he lost a billion dollars due to the virus. Now he’s fleecing the far right sheep out of hundreds of millions of fundraising campaign dollars to fight his evidenceless fraud circus, 75% of which he can keep for himself and use, most likely to start his new digital media empire. Get your head out of the sand and realize your Don ‘god-emperor of mankind’ Trump at whose feet you worship is just a shady business man and nothing more.

  32. Many on this thread speak in absolutes. The reality is that “your” absolute is only based on what you know from your experiences, your education and your biases. I thought the article was great. What articles have you written? I tend to believe in intelligent design. I also believe in God. If you don’t then so what? If a meteor was headed our way you might start praying to someone. Intelligence is being able to entertain an idea without accepting it. Fling away with your insults while the rest of us recognize your intent and move on.

    • Torbjörn Larsson | December 15, 2020 at 3:37 pm | Reply

      Baseless superstition (which hasn’t even tried to produce peer reviewed papers by the way). The facts reject that, and you would know it by reading the paper we should be discussing the results of.

      Not accepting the obvious is not known as a sign of independent intelligence but a prominent sign of herd mentality (or other psychological problems for that matter). So you may want to cut down on the typical passive-aggressive disrespect your cult likes to display – why not be nice instead?

  33. I am totally underwhelmed with the comments above. Not especially into how the earth came to be. Just happy most of the time I am alive on it

  34. The book to which you refer is not “On the Origin of the Species.”
    It is “On the Origin of Species.”
    As you can see, those two titles mean entirely different things. Darwin was not referring to any particular species, only how species arise.

  35. Amazing…you could even get the title of Darwin’s book correct

  36. Wow the comments left by so many are juvenile.
    Should you not be sharing meaningful discussion on the subjects you enjoy and have in common.

  37. Ooohhh the irony.
    Man created AI (thus being a creator) in order to reveal something that may not be considered as a scientific absolute by some…. evolution.
    It takes far more faith to believe the laws of physics, as we know them, originated and fell into place from nothing.
    Scientifically, the absolute truth is, something can not originate from nothing.
    “Using their objective methods”…. is actually being subjective when you can’t consider a creator as a plausible explanation when in fact someone had to create AI in order to make nuanced adjustments to the theory and write this article.
    The truth is out there, keep on searching.

  38. Regarding Mr. Larsson’s comment on Covid using Worldometer data… he left out some other very sobering data.
    From Worldometer…
    There is a 99.5% recovery rate and only 0.5% of cases in serious/ critical condition.
    Compare that with Influenza, which has a vaccine available every year, and it just might get you to pull your head out of your proverbial ass ( I’ll throw you a bone here, about 2% of the worlds population dies from influenza with similar recovery rates…. go figure).
    It’s very difficult to be honest with yourself, let alone stay credible, when you cherry pick data to make a point.
    That’s not being objective.

  39. AI Training In Hyderabad | December 17, 2020 at 9:22 pm | Reply

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  40. … “Artificial Intelligence Discovers Surprising Patterns in Earth’s Biological Mass Extinctions” a case of hard to be nice…
    … So, are all of mass Extinctions, having the same cause? Well, no I guess….
    … oh dear Lord, just give’m a one more tool,…

  41. Extremely Interesting.

    All I can say is WOw. PassionateComments from scross the Spectrum.

    My methodology of examination of anything including Scientific Articles —involves both Analysis to look at Micro and Nano and Synthesis to lookat Macro and Massively large.

    Both play an important role in reaching conclusions based on available evidence.

    Will try to keep it Concise and to the Point. However I have been regularaly accused of being long-winded and pontificating. Apologise for both these shortcomings up front.

    First Step Look at the Title of the article and the authors. Tool used Googgle.
    TITLE: Artificial Intelligence Discovers Surprising Patterns in Earth’s Biological Mass Extinctions
    Origin: Tokyo Institute of Technology
    Authors: J. F. Hoyal Cuthill and N. Guttenberg

    First Author:Jennifer F Hoyal Cuthill —Department of Earth Sciences Cambridge ; Interests: Evolutionary Biology, Paleobiology, Machine Learning.

    Interesting Aside. Author’s previous research reated to Butterflies. Emerges from Caterpillars. Remembering Casttanda. A butterfly flaps its wings and its effect is fely on the other side of the globe! Co-incidence. Superstition Torjjorn Larsson?

    Second Author: Nicholas Guttenberg: Earth Life Science Institute , Tokyo Institute of Technology. Interests: -Machine Learning; Soft Condensed matter, Physics, , Origins of Life, Evolutionary Life Biology,Rare Events Methods.

    Interesting Aside: Don’t know if Nicholas Gutenberg is related to Johanes Gutenberg whose Date of birth is officially June 4th, 1400. Gutenberg’s year of birth is not precisely known, but it was sometime between the years of 1394 and 1404.
    In the 1890s the city of Mainz birth declared his official and symbolic date of birth to be June 24, 1400. Date of death: February 3, 1468 . The famous Johannes Guttenberg of Strasbourg France and Mainz Germany.. First Product the Gutenberg Press was the Gutenberg Bible in German. Published 1455. 48 Published. 12 survive. Co-incidence? Superstition? Torbjorn Larsson? .

    Torbjourn Larsson reminds me of me whenI was young!. Comment on every reply!! what patience. Even the Junkyard Bulldog, the mascot of the school in the USA I studied in would be proud. Anyway I recall that in the MBA program I had written a pape with the title “Know it all”. I have tried. However, I must admit that I have failed miserably in this Goal!

    Anyway , I have read the Post of the two eminent authors and salute them , and also the countless comments related to the same, with great interest and am responding after deep thouhght. May not be as smart or astute as AI and Machine Learning algorithms, but I am trying to cogently present my thoughts roiling about in my puny brain as best as I can.

    Dad and Mom taught me Two Values which I have tried to follow diligently life long. 1. Humility and 2. Gratefulness.

    Grateful to my alma mater and institutes of higher education throughout life for funding my science and busness education in the States with Scholarships and assistantships. Hope these posts are useful and will partially repay the investments made in me by these institutions.

    I am sharing my thoughtss in five separate buckets to try snd communicate ideas , which I hope will be useful to the Scientific Community and all of the people of the world as well. If I do stray from the discussions on Science, do forgive me and blame it on my upbringing, ethical values and moral upbringing attributatble to the Socities I have grown up in.

    Finding Summary: The Study applies machine learning to the fossil record to visualize life’s history, showing the impacts of major evolutionary events. This shows the long-term evolutionary and ecological impacts of major events of extinction and speciation.

    Key Finding:
    The idea that mass extinctions allow many new types of species to evolve is a central concept in evolution, but a new study using artificial intelligence to examine the fossil record finds this is rarely true, and there must be another explanation.

    BUCKET 1.

    Sub -Tile: On the Origin of Species by Means ofNatural Selection in the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life AND “The Descent of man selection in selection to Sex by Charles Darwin , 1871”.

    Well,this is the first bucket chosen upfront, as the world is facing a pandemic, the likes of which seem to appear after a century…with increasing frequency of occurance/recurrance in spread of innfectivity and mortality as weas the latest versionhaving a unique ability to mutate. So far we have been lucky that the mortality h has not been affected so far.

    ! Let us look at the two Tomes of Charles Darwin and the Title of both. If I didnt know better I wold have said this chapis a Racist ( Book 1)and a Male Chauvanist PiG (Book Two)! Dont have Emoticons! Ha! Ha!/ No further Comment on the author and the Titles.

    Let us look at the Bucket 1 in more detail.Some Thoughts for Consideration, so we can connect the dots and spot patterns.
    (a)Lifespans. Universe estimated at 14 billion years. Earth at 4 billion years. arival of species much much shorter based on fossil data analysis. With different creatures having an infinirtesmally shorter life span thanhumans and others thrices or more.
    Difficult to Connect all the dots without a Five Dimensional Diagram. So we will go to the second Bucket . Think of it as the second Dimension of the analysis.

    (b) The deatils of Darwins THEORY of about EVOLUTION ( Sexually, Psycholgically, Ethically, Biological adaptation -which is different from Natural Selection , differences betwee Genders, Races, the dominant Role of Woman iin Mate Selection, at the Gross level — clear reflects the Patriarchical Bias of those times)!

    (c) The basic fact that after impregnationfromthe Millions of Sperms vying to Fertilize the Egg with only One winning the Race as the EGG Chooses and selects the Sperm wic it will allow to fuse with it clearly shows which Gender is callling all the shots!! Hurts the male EGO. However, Version2.0 is always better than version 1.0.

    (d) I do not believe the fastest and nist agile will win the race every time. More than likely the most suitable will!! AND the FEmals Biological Evolutionary preference will dominate!

    (e) So many keep trying desperately during ovuation to concieve without any success, though both male and female are healthy yet fail. The Ovulating Female Gender does not permit it!!So we have invented Artificial Insemination and RU-486 to enable easy abortions?

    (f) No doubt Evolution and Descent are welltested THEORY and RObust Observational Facts support hypotheisi. However we should ask ourselves over What Time Frames , whichenit comes toWHAT TIME- FRAMES?

    (g) If every thing was so cut and dries and Factual, pray do tell me Larsson , why did the Neanderthals disappear & become Extinct and the Humans Radiate and Thrive? Tey did interbreed and sone traces of the Neanderthal Gene is present in some of the HumNS, WHO SEEM TO BE MORE IMPACTED BY THE Covid -19 Virus than others who do not have such traces in their genetic make-up?

    BUCKET 2:

    Subject: Questions.

    Statement: Most Species which have inhabited planet Earth are extinct. Possibly as a result of mass extinction events.

    Previous assumption was that Extinction and Radiation is Simultaneuous and as one goes extinct new species emerge. The Article is all about proving that thesetwo are not necessarily synchronised.

    Well, in the MBA programme at the Terry School of buisness they taught me that when we ASS U ME we make an Ass of both You and Me! Here are questions for consideration.
    (i) TIME. Why Linear? Why cantit be Non-Linear. Why cant it be cyclical.

    (ii) Is extinction of one species providing an opportunity for another Species to emerge? The article say Not Necessasirly. In light of assumptions about TIME , the answer is uncertain.

    (iii) Why Limit Analysis to only Past Fossils based data and past extinction based events. Predictive Analysis turnedon its head can also throw light on missing species, for which Fossils maybe unavaliable. The present existing species and data and trends about increasing and reducing numbers of the samee may give us some clues about likely exit date from planet earth?
    (iv) What about Nano Chemistry, Nano Biology and Physics laws in the quantum space and its implications for Lifecreation, life existence and exit?
    (v) How about combining AI Machine Learning wth the NEW Predictive ( Which Includes Past and Future) Analyticas based on Data and Sytheisis of information using logical -illogic , Illogical – Logic (Intuition) and rational – Irrationality & Irrational – Rationality? This piecemeal research findings without a wholistic picture may or may not give comprehensive insights?
    (vi) DATA NEVER LIES. Unwillingness to let Data , Past , Present and Possible Futures to draw conclusions without the various biases is required? EGO is probably the root cause for this.
    (vii) Is Darwin Charles Wrong? After all it was only a THEORY. If I recall correctly Gregor Mendeleef also proposed a theory ….. and carried out experiments. Are evolution proponebts incorrect? Are there other forces we do not understand or no clue about giving rise to Life we can observe as existing inour short lifetimes? Is life emergence a chance occurance or is there Intelligent Design behind the same?

    (viii) Golidilock Zones? Really? Sun PLanets? Red Dwarfs , White Dwarfs, — TIME FRAMES IN THE UNIVERSE? AGE OF THe Combination in times of Earth? Why Can’t Life exist on these entities? Maybe advanced civilizations dwll in these Dwarf Planets and are unable to escPE THE Massive GRavitational Pull at the Centre of the Galaxy??

    (ix) Intelligent Design or Chance? We may know after first Contact!! My vote is for Intelligent Design !!

    (x) Passive-aggressive Nature is a law of Nature? Not just Annimals, ALL Creatures!!

    Bucket 3.

    (3) EXTINCTION & Radiation.

    1. Extinction of Species and & ROOT CAUSES FOR THE SAME need to be determined , understood and avoided . Risk Management Avatar.

    2. All Life at CellularLevel needs energy to survive. Some get it directly from the Sun ( Photosynthesis), others vide consumption of foods. Risks of infcion from Viruses , bacteria and pathogens from consumption o the flesh of other creatures of God is MUCH higher than consumption of Plant based food sources. If I remember Correctly thelargest Fossils from the age of the Dinosaurs were herbivores. The Carnivores were no match! Mass extnction events did not wipe out the entire species. The winged ones survived and we call them birds ( the feathered variety)!

    Bucket 4.


    (a) Glad to see the outspoken ,brilliantand complsive reply king for every post Humbly admit that he is Human — ” Mea Culpa”. Occassionally

    (b) Love the Comment by ” Just be Nice” on December 14, 2020 at 7.02 AM. Respect for Views of Others needs to be taught regardless of what we may believe!!

    (c) AS ALso the Middle-Earther . REally had me in splits!

    (d) As also the Comment of Annonymous dated December 15th, 2020 at 9.00 AM ne: Superman – Krypton & Superbugs — la Virus Bacterai and Pathogens.

    ( e) Another Beauty is the commet couched in Conspiracy Theory Languauge and Hilarious observations. However, the wise will look at the comment and draw their own conclusions , which helps their objective. SURVIVAL USING RISK MANAGEMENT AVATAR.

    (f) Humourous Comment by Victor Arnolds on December14, 2020 at 8.48 AM . Reminded me of my favorite artoon Character. Hagar the Horrible going Thunk Thunk with his Club and sayying “I Thunk , therefore I am”. !!

    BUCKET 5.


    1. Dont know about Y’wall, but I will be the first toadmit that I am flawedcreation ofthe Almighty My “Know It All project” is an abject failure!! COLLABORATE and Create.

    2. On the specturm of Believers and Atheists both can co-exist and colloborate for ensuring survival ofHumanity. Let Knowledge be Relaced wth Wisdom as the New Currency.

    3. I know one species which is going rapidly extinct and needs to become a protected species. Scientists who are Believers i the Almighty. EGO Prevails and RULES!!

  42. AI Training In Hyderabad | May 18, 2021 at 12:41 am | Reply

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