(ORDO NEWS) — Scientists speculate that exposure to microscopic algae may have been a major driver of ancient climate change events, but they also warn that this hypothesis has not been proven. Writes about this Sky News.
Although the Earth‘s orbit today is not a perfect circle, it was at times even more elliptical, making the seasons more unpredictable. New research has shown that this circumstance influenced biological evolution.
Scientists, led by a team from the French National Research Center (CRNS), have published their research in the journal Nature.
Experts have discovered this effect thanks to microscopic algae known as coccolithophores, which form tiny limestone sheets around their single cells.
When the coccolithophores die, they sink to the ocean floor, where these tiny shells accumulate in the sediment, suggesting how they evolved over geological periods of time.
Scientists have studied approximately nine million coccoliths with a life span of 2.8 million years in several regions of the ocean. Using an automated microscope and artificial intelligence capabilities, they found that coccoliths (limestone slabs) underwent cycles that most likely corresponded to the cycles of the earth’s orbit around the sun.
The frequency of changes in the size and shape of limestone slabs, which lasted 100 and 400 thousand years, indicated the evolutionary pressure caused by more variable seasons.
When the Earth’s orbit is more circular, the equatorial regions show little seasonal fluctuations, scientists say, and all oceans are dominated by species that are not very widespread.
Scientists believe cyclical models of limestone abundance will help find an answer to strange climate changes in Earth’s history, but cautiously note that this hypothesis has not yet been confirmed.
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