Mammals Flourished After Extinction of Dinosaurs
The University College of London analysed fossil records, which pointed out that the diversity of mammals greatly increased following the extinction of dinosaurs, Science Daily reported.
Today there are about 5,000 placental mammal species known, which include the modern humankind. This group started to develop in great variety and numbers throughout the Palaeocene epoch.
The author of the research Dr Anjali Goswami from the UCL’s Genetics, Evolution and Environment believes that disappearance of dinosaurs created better ecological situation for mammals, by limiting the number of predators and competitors for resources. Thus the body size and diversity of mammals increased.
In just 10 million years of evolution following the extinction of dinosaurs, more forms of mammals appeared than in the previous 160 million years of giant reptiles roaming the Earth.
The study included early evolution of elephants, dolphins, cats, sloths, and humans. A new tree of life was created specifically for placental animals.
The extinction of giant reptiles 66 million years ago was followed by the appearance of mammals, whose earliest fossils are found just a few hundred thousand years after that event.
While the death of dinosaurs was traditionally considered as a tragic event in history, it looks like without it you and I wouldn’t be here today.
The Long Path to Appearance of Modern Humans
In comparison, the modern humans are believed to appear as species only some 200 thousand years ago.
Last year we reported about Russian scientists’ plans to clone wholly mammoth in the heart of Siberia from the remains in permafrost. In the light of the news how the demise of gigantic reptiles influenced our chance to thrive, this may not be the wisest move.
In another study it was shown that the increase in oxygen levels about 600 million years ago was responsible for the expansion of animal life on Earth, using samples of rocks. It took about 100 million years for the levels of oxygen in the atmosphere to raise from 1% to 10% of today’s concentration.
The gradual changes in the level of oxygenation were traced using the selenium isotope tracing technique. Previously it was believed to be a faster process than it was found out in the research. Vertebral creatures appeared around 530 million years ago in the oceans.
The latest research into the history of evolution is important to better understanding whether life can exist somewhere else in the Universe.
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