Evolution, Not Climate Change Caused First Mass Extinction

Friday, September 04, 2015

Mass Extinction

A group of researchers from Vanderbilt University, United States in a study have asserted that evolution of early animals led to the first mass extinction on earth around 540 million years ago. The study rejects the idea that the first mass extinction was caused due to a meteorite impact or volcanic super-eruption.

The findings closely examined several communities of Ediacarans, the world’s first multicellular organisms which led to the conclusion that appearance of complex animals altered the environment’s ecosystem. It also states that the photosynthetic process that these complex animals developed produced oxygen as a toxic byproduct. This resulted in Ediacarans’ disappearance.

Researchers even performed paleoecological and geochemical analysis of the youngest known Ediacaran community in Southern Namibia. The site known as Farm Swartpunt is 545 million years old. The diversity of species at the site was much lower and there was evidence of greater ecological stress. Moreover rocks from this age preserved evidence of burrows and tracks made by animals from that age. This presented a link between Ediacarans’ evolution and extinction.  

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