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Palaeontology

Mass extinction caused long-term disruption

By T.K. Randall
September 30, 2019 · Comment icon 7 comments

The world took a long time to recover. Image Credit: NASA
A new study has revealed how long it took for the world's oceans to recover after the death of the dinosaurs.
When a massive asteroid struck Mexico 66 million years ago, the chaos that ensued was so absolute that it is amazing that anything managed to survive at all.

In addition to the dinosaurs, the majority of species on Earth disappeared, paving the way for mammals to dominate and, eventually, for modern humans to evolve.

But exactly how long did it take for the world to recover after this devastating mass extinction event ?

According to a new study, it actually took a whopping 13 million years for the plankton at the base of the ocean ecosystem to fully recover and repopulate following the disaster.
"We looked at the best fossil record of ocean plankton we could find - calcareous nannofossils and collected 13 million years of information from a sample every 13 thousand years," said lead author Sarah Alvarez from the University of Gibraltar.

"We measured abundance, diversity and cell size from over 700,000 fossils, probably the largest fossil dataset ever produced from one site."

The research has also helped to highlight the risks of modern-day diversity loss.

"Losing species today runs the risk of eliminating key creatures in ecosystems," sad palaeobiologist and co-lead author Dr Samantha Gibbs. "What we've demonstrated from this fossil record is that function is achieved if you have the right players fulfilling key roles."

"Today, by reducing biodiversity, we are running the risk of losing our critical ecosystem players, many of whose importance we don't yet fully appreciate."

Source: Irish News | Comments (7)




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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Jon the frog 5 years ago
Incredible that after such an heavy loss of genetic biodiversity, remnant species evolved to fill the gaps so fast. It's a enormous amount of time when looked at a human perspective level, but small when looked at an evolution process level and smaller at a geological level.
Comment icon #2 Posted by Tom1200 5 years ago
I think we need to take this 'research' with a pinch of sodium chloride.  No proper scientist uses the word "whopping" except to refer to their genitalia.  Besides, I've read books and I reckon it only took 12.7 million years.  This new calculation is so far-fetched that it's absolutely ludicrous! Also - did anyone else spot that 'Sarah Alvarez' turned into 'Samantha Gibbs' at the end?  Try proof-reading your fake science, creeps. Finally - and this is the killer: there is no 'University of Gibraltar'!  Gib isn't big enough to house a university and I should know - I looked at a map for... [More]
Comment icon #3 Posted by Eldorado 5 years ago
Alternate links: Phys Org: https://phys.org/news/2019-09-tiny-plankton-recover-dinosaur-killing-asteroid.html Paper Abstract at Nature: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-019-1590-8
Comment icon #4 Posted by Hammerclaw 5 years ago
They analyzed a complete thirteen million year data set. That's pretty cut and dried. Biodiversity, after recovering from The Great Dying of the Permian, had been hit by subsequent lesser extinctions, but nothing like this. It took a long time for life to fully rehabilitate the oceans, a long time on the human scale, but a blink in geologic time.
Comment icon #5 Posted by DanL 5 years ago
The lead author is Sarah Alvarez and the CO-lead author is Samantha Gibbs. That is how it reads. They are two different people, not one person that turned into another person. The word "whopping" was a word used by the author of the ARTICLE about the study and NOY a word used by the authors of the study. The difference between 12.7 and 13 million years matters how? .3 million years in a study of this sort of time scale is well within acceptable variance. There is a University of Gibraltar!!! Since you couldn't google it I did it for you... https://www.facebook.com/unigib If you are going to pi... [More]
Comment icon #6 Posted by DieChecker 5 years ago
I'm as much for saving the environment as the next guy, but if it took 13 million years, why do we still have super delicate creatures like corals, butterflies, and frogs? Were they tougher back then?
Comment icon #7 Posted by Carnoferox 5 years ago
I'm fairly certain Tom's comment was in jest.


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