Scientists have discovered how some species survived 'mass extinctions' which came close to wiping life off the face of our planet.
To understand why some creatures made it through the Great Dying 252 million years ago, researchers analyzed fossils of ancient sea creatures.
This disaster killed 96% of life in the ocean and 70% of the backboned creatures living on land.
Ashley Dineen, a museum scientist of invertebrate palaeontology at the California Academy of Sciences, said: "We are interested in understanding and have better survivors than others.
We are pushing our planet into an increasingly uncertain future. '
Humanity owes these plucky survivors a huge debt, because of the beasties that survived eventually evolved into all the living matter.
Because of the great dying, because humanity is currently in the process of sparking a mass extinction which could prove as disastrous as the cataclysm of old.
'We should therefore be learning about how – and how well – these species survive, and more effectively,' Dineen added.
'When you consider the mass extinction we face today, it's clear.
Greater mobility, higher metabolism, and more diverse feeding habits'.
These 'hardy stand-outs' were stronger and more predatory, more likely to be more defensive.
After the disaster, the sea began to become more and more active survivors that are strikingly similar to the inhabitants of our modern oceans'.
D. Peter Roopnarine, Academy Curator of Geology, said: "We are learning from our analysis.
'This helps us understand if the system has shifted to favoring species with a variety of responses to stress.'