Greenland fossils reveal global ecosystem recovery after mass extinction
A paper published in Nature's Scientific Reports shows how higher latitude ecosystems recovered after the World's most cataclysmic extinction event 252 million years ago. New fossils discovered by Uppsala University palaeontologists record an empty alien world from immediately after the extinction.
|Dr Grzegorz Niedzwiedzki from the Evolutionary Biology Centre at Uppsala University was part |
of the two-man team collecting fossils in East Greenland [Credit: Uppsala University]
"The seas were oxygen depleted and acidic, with a very low diversity bottom-living fauna comprising bivalves and vast colonies of filter-feeding microconchid tube worms. These would have encrusted shells and algal mats, which provided both suitable substrates and a potential source of oxygen," says Dr Zaton.
Microconchid fossils have never previously been reported from ancient higher latitudes. "At the very beginning of the Age of Dinosaurs 252 million years ago, East Greenland was on the edge of a Boreal seaway stretching to the North Pole", says Dr Benjamin Kear from the Museum of Evolution at Uppsala University and leader of the project funded by the Swedish Polar Research Secretariat. "Our discovery is significant because it shows for the first time that sea floor life at higher latitudes suffered the same global extinction process, and subsequent ecosystem recovery," says Dr Kear.
|Fossils from East Greenland [Credit: Uppsala University]|
"Our recent findings not only demonstrate global extinction recovery, but also that Triassic bottom-living communities rapidly adapted over time," says co-author Dr Grzegorz Niedzwiedzki also from the Evolutionary Biology Centre at Uppsala University. "We found completely new microconchid species that invaded brackish lagoons as the seas retreated. This environmental opportunism was probably key to their survival and ecological success in the wake of massive ecosystem collapse."
Author: David Naylor | Source: Uppsala University [October 31, 2016]