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Volume 6 (2006), Pages 718-726
Review Article

The Astronomical Pulse of Global Extinction Events

1School of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences, University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey, GU2 7XH, UK
2Clinical Pharmacology Group, Division of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease, Institute of Human Nutrition, School of Medicine, University of Southampton, Bassett Crescent East, Southampton, Hampshire, SO16 7PX, UK

Received 13 June 2006; Accepted 15 June 2006

Academic Editor: Devendra Lal

Copyright © 2006 David F.V. Lewis and Jean-Lou C.M. Dorne.


The linkage between astronomical cycles and the periodicity of mass extinctions is reviewed and discussed. In particular, the apparent 26 million year cycle of global extinctions may be related to the motion of the solar system around the galaxy, especially perpendicular to the galactic plane. The potential relevance of Milankovitch cycles is also explored in the light of current evidence for the possible causes of extinction events over a geological timescale.