Survival tactics applied by a strange, ancient creature reveals some interesting insights. Supposedly, they adjusted into a "live fast, die young" strategy to survive the mass extinction and foster the growth and adaptability of their lineage.

A mass extinction had occurred in which Siberian volcanoes erupted and wiped away most of the species that walked the planet. Referred to as the End-Permian extinctions, researchers said that it happened toward the end of the Permian and at the beginning of the Triassic periods, or about 252 million years ago.

It is one of the worst extinctions in the history of extinctions, it even colossally altered the elements of the Earth as we know it. The End-Premerian extinction is in fact considered to be destructively worse than the mass extinction that wiped away the gigantic dinosaurs - the Cretaceous-Paleogene mass extinction.

The volcanoes spewed out tons of toxic carbon into the atmosphere, acidifying oceans and disrupting the Earth's environment. Most of the living species couldn't survive the change and became extinct. However, few of the species didn't succumb to the catastrophe and one such species was the therapsids.

According to a new study published in the Scientific Reports, a team of paleontologists has discovered that the therapsids adapted to the life post the tragic extinction, by enabling shorter life expectancy and early reproduction. The evolved therapsids were breeding at a much younger age as compared to their predecessors.

The study particularly focused on the Lystrosaurus, a weird mammal-like-reptile, because of its amazing success rate in surviving and dominating while the planet was getting back to its feet after the extinction. Studying this species has been a revelation because most of the vertebrate fossils (70 to 90 percent) found at a Karoo dig site, which belonged to the Triassic period, was that of the Lystrosaurus.

"Before the Permo-Triassic extinction, the famous therapsid Lystrosaurus had a life span of about 13 or 14 years based on the record of growth preserved in their bones," said Ken Angielczyk, one of the authors and a paleontologist at Field Museum.

"Yet, nearly all of the Lystrosaurus specimens we find from after the extinction are only 2-3 years old. This implies that they must have been breeding when they were still [relatively young] themselves," he added.

The purpose of the study was to better understand and envisage how the species of today will adapt when faced with dire environmental circumstances by finding out how the ancient species evolved and adapted to the disasters of their time.

"Therapsid fossils like Lystrosaurus are important because they teach us about the resilience of our own extinct relatives in the face of extinction, and provide clues to which traits conferred success on lineages during this turbulent time," said postdoctoral scholar and study author, Adam Huttenlocker, of the Natural History Museum of Utah.

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