After the greatest extinction event on earth, these animals were the first to recover

After the greatest extinction event on earth, these animals were the first to recover

The Permian Triassic extinction, which occurred about 252 million years ago, is known in everyday speech as the great dying because of how it wiped out life on earth – it almost completely ended. It is the most serious extinction event in history.

Life recovered, however, and new research identifies that feeders such as worms and shrimp – animals that feed on organic material that settled on the ocean floor – were the first to bounce back in terms of population and biodiversity.

Suspension feeders, which talk organic material suspended in water, followed much later, according to a detailed dating of paths and caves on the southern Chinese seabed. This analysis revealed a plethora of ichnofossiler or trace fossils – not real animal remains, but remains of animal activity.

What the oceans may have looked like before (A) and after (BF) extinction. (X.Feng / Z.-Q.Chen / MJ Benton / Y. Jiang)

“We were able to look at fossil tracks from 26 sections throughout the entire series of events, representing 7 million crucial years of time,” says paleontologist Michael Bentonfrom the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom.

“We are showing details at 400 sampling points, and we finally reconstructed the recovery stages of all animals including benthos, nectons, as well as these soft digging animals in the ocean.”

Since soft-bodied animals have no skeletons to leave behind, track fossils are crucial to finding out how these creatures lived. The research group was also able to incorporate body fossils into their study to look at how other species began to recover when the deposits established themselves.

“The crisis at the end of the Permian – which was so devastating to life on earth – was caused by global warming and ocean acidification, but track-forming animals can be eliminated by the environment in a way that skeletal organisms did not.” says paleoecologist Xueqian Feng from China University of Geosciences.

“Our traces of fossil data reveal soft animals’ resistance to high CO2 and heating. These ecosystem engineers may have played a role in the recovery of benthic ecosystems after severe mass extinctions, potentially, for example, triggering the evolutionary innovations and radiation of early Triassic. “

The team looked at four different metrics when measuring recovery: diversity (the different types of an animal), differences (how different the different types were), how the space was used (utilization of eco-space) and how habitats were modified by the animal (ecosystem). technique).

Life began to return to the deepest waters first. Once pantmatare had largely recovered followed suspension feeders such as brachiopods, mosses and mussels – largely sedentary and often rooted to the seabed – but much later.

Even later, corals began to return. It took about 3 million years for soft sediment inhabitants to return to pre-extinction levels.

“Perhaps the landfills made such a mess of the seabed that the water was contaminated with mud, the cored mud meant that suspension feeders could not settle properly on the seabed, or the muddy water produced by these deposits simply clogged the filtration structures on slurry feeders and forbade them to feed efficiently, says geobiology student Alison Cribbfrom the University of Southern California.

The The eradication event of the Permian tria killed about 80-90 percent of marine life on earth, so it’s no surprise that the recovery took a long time. By adding traces of fossil records to data along with body fossils, researchers can get a more complete picture of what happened next.

Climate changeglobal warming, oxygen depletion and increased sea acidification believed to be the main driving forces behind the mass extermination – and that of course means that the findings here can teach us more about what is happening in modern times.

By understanding how certain animals survived and recovered in the wake of the great dying, we can better find out how these creatures can survive the current warming period we are going through, and which species may be the most resistant.

The research has been published in The progress of science.

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