(ORDO NEWS) — Scientists have carefully studied the geological processes that caused the formation of giant mountain ranges. As a result, they discovered that it was these supermountains that controlled the evolution of life.
Exploring the processes of mountain formation, scientists discovered an interesting pattern: with the formation of huge mountain ranges, “jumps” occurred in the evolution of living organisms. The mountain ranges that caused this were about the same scale as the Himalayas or even more.
How exactly the giant mountain ranges of the past influenced evolution
It was possible to discover the relationship between the “jumps” in the evolution of life and the formation of giant mountain ranges thanks to zircon with a low content of lutetium.
The fact is that such a combination of a mineral and a rare earth element is found only at the roots of mountains, where there is enormous pressure. Therefore, it is a marker of the formation of giant mountain ranges.
- The first “super mountains” were formed 2 – 1.8 billion years ago and coincide in time with the appearance of the first eukaryotes.
- 1.8 – 0.8 billion years ago there were no significant processes of formation of mountain ranges. Scientists jokingly call this period the “boring billion” – then there was a kind of “extinction” of evolutionary processes, their slowdown.
- The second “super mountains” were formed in the interval 650 – 500 million years ago and coincided in time with a significant reproduction of algae, the appearance of chordates, arthropods, mollusks and other animals. This event is known as the Cambrian Explosion.
How exactly did the emergence of “super mountains” affect evolution?
Supermountains Nuna (2 – 1.8 billion years ago) and Transgo Dwan super mountains (650 – 500 million years ago) formed at the junctions of lithospheric plates during the formation of supercontinents.
- During their formation, millions of tons of rocks rose from the depths of the Earth, which brought useful substances to the surface – for example, phosphorus and iron.
- These useful substances, due to erosion, fell into the oceans, saturating them. Microorganisms that lived there received “free food”, which caused the acceleration of reproduction and development.
- During the “boring billion” processes of formation of supermountains were not discovered, which led to a slowdown in the rate of evolution, because much less useful substances got into the oceans.
- Also interesting is the observation that the amount of oxygen in the atmosphere increased in three stages – two of them coincide in time with the formation of Nuna and the Transgo Dwan super mountains. This may be due to an increase in algae reproduction.
Probably, after the “Cambrian explosion” life was already complex enough to continue to actively evolve without the “intervention” of supermountains.
Although it may be that the activation of many other smaller geological processes supported the amount of nutrients in the environment.
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