Impressions of the extinct Ediacaran fossils: Dickinsonia (center) and the smaller anchor-shaped Parvancorina (left), in sandstone at the Nilpena Ediacara National Park in South Australia.

Scientists Just Discovered a Sixth Mass Extinction Hidden in Earth’s Ancient Past

The height of the Ediacaran Period, about 550 million years ago, was a boom time for life in Earth’s oceans. The feather-like petalamides sucked nutrients from the water, looking like slugs Kimberella were grazing on microbial mats, and the ancestors of jellyfish were just starting to make waves.

But 80% of life on Earth has disappeared, leaving no trace in the fossil record.

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