Indian-origin scientist reveals it took Earth 30 mln years to recover from mass extinction

January 19th, 2008 - 1:15 pm ICT by admin  

London, Jan 19 (ANI): New research by a scientist of Indian origin, has indicated that it took a much longer time for ecological systems of our planet to recover fully after a devastating extinction event which had occurred 250 million years ago, 30 million years to be precise.

According to Sarda Sahney and Professor Michael Benton from the University of Bristol, UK, about 250 million years ago, at the end of the Permian period, a major extinction event killed over 90 per cent of life on earth, including insects, plants, marine animals, amphibians, and reptiles.

This major event had caused the worldwide destruction of ecosystems and restructuring of communities, which led the surviving organisms struggling to recover.

Though previous research had indicated that life bounced back quite quickly after the event, it was mostly in the form of disaster taxa, which means opportunistic organisms that filled the empty ecospace left behind by the extinction.

Now, a new research conducted by Sahney and Professor Benton at the University of Bristol, indicates that specialised animals forming complex ecosystems, with high biodiversity, complex food webs and a variety of niches, took much longer to recover.

According to Sahney, Our research shows that after a major ecological crisis, recovery takes a very long time. So although we have not yet witnessed anything like the level of the extinction that occurred at the end of the Permian, we should nevertheless bear in mind that ecosystems take a very long time to fully recover.

For the research, Sahney and Benton looked at the recovery of tetrapods animals with a backbone and four legs, such as amphibians and reptiles.

They found out that although globally tetrapods appeared to recover quickly, the dramatic restructuring that occurred at the community level was not permanent and communities did not recover numerically or ecologically until about 30 million years later.

By examining well-preserved and well-studied faunas, the taxonomic and ecological recovery of communities after the Permian extinction event can be examined more accurately, and the problems of geological bias are largely avoided, explained Benton. (ANI)

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