First mass extinction on Earth is associated with the sudden disappearance of oxygen

(ORDO NEWS) — Researchers have studied fossil footprints in rocks and found out when the first mass extinction occurred on Earth.

Geologists have figured out the cause of the first known mass extinction on Earth, which led to the death of most animals.

The mass extinction occurred towards the end of the Ediacaran period, about 550 million years ago.

Geologists have discovered that this was due to a significant decrease in the amount of oxygen on the planet.

The researchers found that many animal species were affected by the extinction, but those whose body structure and behavior indicate they required significant amounts of oxygen appeared to be particularly hard hit.

“We find confirmation of a decline in global oxygen availability as the mechanism responsible for this extinction,” the paper says.

The researchers studied fossil prints in the rocks to understand what the creatures that died as a result of this extinction would have looked like.

They said that prior to this extinction, the fossils they find often don’t fit into how we classify animals today.

“Essentially, this extinction may have helped pave the way for animal evolution.”

Led by researcher Scott Evans of the Department of Geosciences at the Virginia College of Science, the researchers demonstrated that environmental changes associated with declining oxygen levels can lead to mass extinction of animals and profound destruction and transformation of the ecosystem.

Although researchers have yet to fully understand the cause of the sudden drop in the planet’s oxygen levels that caused the first mass extinction, they speculate that it could be a combination of a number of events that occurred during this period.

“It could be any number and combination of volcanic eruptions, tectonic plate movement, asteroid impact, etc.

But what we’re seeing is that endangered animals seem to be responding to reduced global oxygen availability,” Evans said.

“Our study shows that, like all other mass extinctions in the Earth’s past, this first animal mass extinction was caused by severe climate change – another story in a long list of warnings demonstrating the danger our current climate crisis is to animal life,” Evans added.


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