Discovery of a New Mass Extinction and Advent of Dinosaurs

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Discovery of a New Mass Extinction and Advent of dinosaurs

Devastating events like mass extinction are rare events; when-so-ever they are identified, they stand out in the fossil records. A new paper is published yesterday in Science Advances about a significant mass life extinction event, 233 million years back. This mass extinction triggered dinosaur to take over the world. The event has been named as the Carnian Pluvial Episode.

A team of 17 members worked on the study to review all the paleontological and geological evidence to determine what had happened. The team is led by Jacopo Dal Corso, China University of Geosciences, Wuhan and Mike Benton, School of Earth Sciences, University of Bristol.

The cause of the extinction is predicted to be a massive volcanic eruption in the Wrangellia Province, western Canada. Most part of the western coast of North America is predicted to have formed from huge volumes of the volcanic basalt.

Jacopo Dal Corso mentioned the eruption to have peaked around the Carnian stage. He told his study on the geochemical signature of the eruption helped him identify some significant effects on the atmosphere worldwide. The eruption pumped vast amounts of greenhouse gases like CO2 in the environment, that spiked global warming. Back in the 1980s  geologists Mike Simms and Alastair Ruffell detected and associated global warming with increased rainfall as a humid episode and was estimated to have lasted for 1 million years. This drastic change in the climate resulted in the loss of a significant quantity of biodiversity in the ocean and on land. Following the extinction events, new forms of life took over, forming more modern like ecosystems. The shift in climate post-global warming resulted in the growth and flourish of modern conifer forests.

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The surviving herbivorous reptiles depended on the slim pickings from the new floras professor Mike Benton postulated. He said he had noted a floral switch and catastrophe in the ecology among the herbivores back in the 1980s when he had completed his Ph.D. Now, we all know that Dinosaurs originated some 20 million years before the eruption had happened but were sparsely distributed and remained insignificant until the Carnian Pluvial Episode hit. The sudden arid conditions after the humid period gave the dinosaurs the required condition for populating.

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Apart from Dinosaurs, many modern classes of plants and animals including some of the initial turtles, lizards, crocodiles, and the first mammal appeared during this time.

There was a severe impact on ocean life due to the Carnian Pluvial Episode. The event marked the start of modern-style coral reefs, and also many groups of plankton.  These new habitats suggested the profound changes in the chemistry of the ocean and the carbonate cycle.

In the history of 500 million years of life on Earth, researchers had identified five ‘big’ mass extinctions, says Jacopo Dal Corso. Each of the events had a significant impact on the evolution of the planet and life on it. This identified extinction event evidently had a major role to reset life on land and in the oceans, hence marks the origin of modern ecosystems.

Source

Discovery of a New Mass Extinction and Advent of dinosaurs

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