252 million years ago, a massive amount of carbon was released into the Earth's atmosphere. Where did it come from? We're not sure. But we do know that the chemistry of the Earth's oceans changed drastically, and up to 96 percent of all marine species became extinct. 

These changes to the Earth's biosphere resulted in what is known as the Permian mass extinction. In geologic terms, it all happened quite quickly. In fact, a new study states that it took 60,000 years to kill more than 90 percent of all life on Earth. 

This precise finding will help researchers refine the extinction event's "potential trigger mechanisms." According to Seth Burgess, a geochemist at MIT, "having an accurate timeline for the events surrounding the mass extinction and the interval itself is extremely important, because it gives us an idea of how the biosphere responds."

Read more here.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock