No mass extinction for land plants at the Permian-Triassic transition

Hendrik Nowak, Elke Schneebeli-Hermann & Evelyn Kustatscher,

The most severe mass extinction among animals took place in the latest Permian (ca. 252 million years ago). Due to scarce and impoverished fossil floras from the earliest Triassic, the common perception has been that land plants likewise suffered a mass extinction, but doubts remained. Here we use global occurrence data of both plant macro- and microfossils to analyse plant biodiversity development across the Permian–Triassic boundary. We show that the plant fossil record is strongly biased and that evidence for a mass extinction among plants in the latest Permian is not robust. The taxonomic diversities of gymnosperm macrofossils and of the pollen produced by this group are particularly incongruent. Our results indicate that gymnosperm macrofossils are considerably undersampled for the Early Triassic, which creates the impression of increased gymnosperm extinction in the latest Permian.

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