Cambrian Explosion And Plate Tectonics

Long time ago, most organisms were simple and one-celled. Then, about 541 million years ago, Cambrian explosion happened. It was one of the most important evolutionary events, when most major animals and phyla appeared. For years scientist tried to find out what led to it and now the story has taken a twist.

Cambrian Explosion
Cambrian Explosion

A team from University of Exeter connected Cambrian Explosion with the formation of super-continent called Godwana. They created a biogeochemical model to make the first quantification of changes in atmospheric oxygen levels just prior to explosion of life. As the result, they calculated that, when Godwana was forming, chains of volcanoes were created, which led to increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Thus increased the greenhouse effect and warmed the planet. Increase in temperature amplified the weathering of continental rocks, which supplied the nutrient phosphorus to the ocean to drive photosynthesis and oxygen production.

"In this research, the model not only predicts a rise in oxygen to levels estimated to be necessary to support the large, mobile, predatory animal life of the Cambrian, but the model predictions also show strong agreement with existing geochemical evidence." says J. Williams, the lead author of the study. The team also estimated that oxygen level reached one fourth of its today's amount in the atmosphere, which was critical amount for most Cambrian organisms.

In conclusion, team from University of Exeter connected Cambrian Explosion with increase of greenhouse gas emission to the atmosphere. The study agrees with all geochemical evidence and is a great material for further research.

Also Read: Basics of Astrophysics Series

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