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A Day and Night of Brahma: The Evidence from Fossil Records (cont.)
By Bibhu Dev Misra (IIT, IIM)

In 1984, paleontologists David Raup and Jack Sepkoski published a paper in the Journal of the Geological Society of London (vol 146, pp 7-19), claiming that they had identified a statistical periodicity in extinction rates over the last 250 million years. In his research, Sepkoski prepared a listing of about a quarter of a million species of sea-dwelling creatures, both extinct and current, noting the point in time where they appeared and became extinct. Sepkoski confined the study to marine organisms because the chances of finding fossils are much higher under the sea-bed. To further study extinction periods, Sepkoski decided to concentrate on the last 250 million years of geologic time and to throw out animals whose point of appearance and disappearance were debated. He was left with about 500 of his original 3,500 marine families (250,000 species). Sepkoski put the data through computer analysis and was surprised to find that life forms on earth seemed to disappear drastically exactly every 26.2 million years.

Fig 1: The original extinction data of Raup and Sepkoski. This plot represents the extinction rate (vertical axis) vs. time (horizontal axis). The extinction rate peaks every 26 million years, which are marked by the arrows.

The extinction of dinosaurs 65 million years ago has been followed by two more extinction events. We can find a surprising correlation between the extinction dates calculated by Raup and Sepkoski and those arrived at from the Vedic texts. The Vishnu Purana states that we are now at the middle of the first day of the 51st year of Brahma. Since a Day of Brahma lasts for 12 million years, this implies it has been roughly 6 million years since the beginning of the current cycle of creation i.e. the current 'Day of Brahma'. Therefore, as per the Vishnu Purana, the previous destruction events should have taken place as per the following timelines: 18 million years ago, 42 million years ago and 66 million years ago. This matches very closely with the dates calculated by Sepkoski: 11 million years ago, 38 million years ago and 65 million years ago.

While the extinction of the dinosaurs, 65 million years ago, nearly coincides with the date arrived at from the Puranic calculations, there is a slight deviation in the other cases. We should remember that the dates calculated by Sepkoski are approximate, and depend on the sample characteristics and various assumptions inherent in the model. Besides, we know the duration of the 24,000 year Precessional Year is not constant, but appears to fluctuate between 26,000 and 22,000 years. Therefore, it is quite likely that the duration of a cosmic cycle of creation and dissolution also fluctuates between 22 million years and 26 million years, with 'mean' value of 24 million years. The periodicity of these fluctuations need to be understood and considered in order to correctly calculate the previous dates of cosmic destruction. Also, the statement that we are currently in the 'middle' of the current 'Day of Brahma' cannot be taken literally to mean that it has been exactly 6 million years since the previous destruction event. It could be slightly more or less than 6 million years.

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