Around 66 million years ago, a giant asteroid hit the earth and resulted in the extinction of dinosaurs and various other species. Since then, no such event has taken place on earth, and it has played a crucial role in determining the evolution of human beings. And now, a new study has suggested that mass extinction events on earth usually follows a pattern.

Asteroid impacts are not random

According to the new study report, widespread extinction of land-dwelling animals that include amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and birds usually follows an extinction cycle of 27 million years. The study report also hinted that mass extinction events typically coincide with events like asteroid hits and volcanic eruptions.

Representational Image of asteroid approaching earthPixabay

"The global mass extinctions were apparently caused by the largest cataclysmic impacts and massive volcanism, perhaps sometimes working in concert," said Michael Rampino, a researcher at the New York University and the lead author of the study in a recent statement.

The new study report suggested that devastating events like asteroid impacts are not random, and it is mainly due to the orbit of the earth through the galaxy. The solar system, in which the earth resides, passes through the crowded part of the galaxy every 30 million years, and during these times, large asteroids may hit the planet.

"These new findings of coinciding, sudden mass extinctions on land and in the oceans, and of the common 26- to 27-million-year cycle, lend credence to the idea of periodic global catastrophic events as the triggers for the extinctions," added Rampino.

When will the next mass extinction event be?

Rampino, in an interaction, with USA Today, revealed that planet earth is about 20 million years away from the next mass extinction event. He also made it clear that the next mass extinction event will be most probably triggered by an asteroid hit or volcanic eruption.

A few months back, popular British naturalist David Attenborough had warned that a deadly mass extinction event and another pandemic outbreak could hit the earth before 2100. Attenborough also predicted that the mass extinction event could be triggered silently before anyone could realize it.