Paleozoic echinoderm hangover: Waking up in the Triassic
The end-Paleozoic witnessed the most devastating mass extinction in Earth's history so far, killing the majority of species and profoundly shaping the evolutionary history of the survivors. Echinoderms are among the marine invertebrates that suffered the most severe losses at the end-Permian extinction.
|Paleozoic hangover asterozoans. Specimen repositories: MHI = Muschelkalkmuseum Ingelfingen; |
MnhnL = Natural History Museum Luxembourg [Credit: B. Thuy et al.,
copyright The Geological Society of America, 2017]
Some ancient echinoids, ophiuroids, and asteroids had slipped the bottleneck and coexisted with the ancestors of modern-day sea urchins, brittle stars, sand dollars, and relatives, for many millions of years. These echinoderm hangovers occurred almost worldwide and had spread into a wide range of paleo-environments by the late Triassic.
This discovery challenges the fundamentals of echinoderm evolution with respect to end-Permian survival and sheds new light on the early evolution of the modern clades, in particular on Triassic ghost lineages of the crown-group look-alikes of the Paleozoic hangovers.
The findings are published in Geology.
Source: Geological Society of America [March 16, 2017]