What normally happens after a mass extinction?

I think it has something to do with some species increasing in population. Not sure, though. Thanks!

1 Answer
Dec 14, 2015

Bill Nye (the Science Guy) answered this Socratic question via Twitter video.
Check it out!


In the video above, Bill Nye says that after a mass extinction, other organisms fill the niches left behind.

In a mass extinction scenario where many species are killed off, some species will survive and take over the empty niches left behind. For example, if a mass extinction episode wiped out the majority of mammals, that "real-estate" would be open for other species to take over. Natural selection would favor species that could take advantage of these newly available resources.

This means that mass extinctions are generally followed by rapid species diversification. Prior to the extinction of dinosaurs, mammals were not nearly as diverse as they are today; the extinction of the dinosaurs made "room" for the expansion and evolution of mammal species.

To sum up, Bill Nye asks the question, if we had another mass extinction episode today, what would come after us?