The tiny, seemingly harmless ocean flora survived the darkness of the dinosaur-killing asteroid attack by learning the behavior of ghosts ̵1; cannibals of other living creatures.
Large amounts of debris, soot and aerosols are shot into the atmosphere when an asteroid crashed into Earth 66 million years ago, pushing the planet into darkness, cooling the climate and acidifying the oceans. Along with the terrestrial dinosaurs and giant marine reptiles, the dominant seaweed species were immediately wiped out – except for a rare one.
A team of scientists, including researchers at UC Riverside, wanted to understand how these algae managed to thrive while mass extinctions were taking place throughout the rest of the food chain. Global.
“This event comes closest to the eradication of all multicellular life on this planet, at least in the oceans,” said UCR geologist and study co-author Andrew Ridgwell. “If you remove the algae, which is the basis of the food chain, everything else will die. We want to know how the oceans on Earth avoid that fate and how the modern marine ecosystems of the world are. we redeveloped after such disaster. “
To answer their question, the team examined well-preserved fossils of the surviving algae and created detailed computer models to simulate the evolution that might have had in the habit of swordplay. eating of algae over time. Their findings have now been published in the journal Scientific advance.
According to Ridgwell, the scientists were a bit fortunate to have found nanoscale fossils in the first place. They are in a sediment that accumulates quickly and has a high clay content, which preserves them in the same way that the La Brea tar pit provides a special environment for mammoth conservation.
Most fossils have screens made of calcium carbonate, as well as holes in their shields. The holes indicate the presence of the whipworm – thin, tail-like structures that allow tiny creatures to swim.
“The only reason you need to move is to get prey,” Ridgwell explains.
Modern relatives of ancient algae also have chloroplasts, allowing them to use sunlight to make food from carbon dioxide and water. The ability to survive both by eating other organisms and through photosynthesis is called amalgamation. Examples of a few species of terrestrial plants capable of this include flight paths and Venusian diving trees.
The researchers found that once the asteroid darkness dissipates, these mixed algae will extend from coastal shelf areas into the vast ocean, where they become the dominant life form in a million years, helping to quickly rebuild the food chain. It also helps larger organisms that normally eat these algae that were not originally present in the extinct oceans.
“The results show both the extreme adaptability of marine plankton and their ability to rapidly evolve, however, for plants with only one growth time,” Ridgwell said. day, that you are only a year from darkness to be extinct ”.
Only later did algae evolve, lose the ability to eat other organisms and re-establish itself to become one of today’s dominant ocean algae.
“The mixture is both the primary means of survival, and the advantage after the asteroid darkness looms up because there are many pretty little cells, which are likely still living cyanobacteria,” Ridgwell said. “It was the last story of Halloween – when the lights went out, people started eating each other.”
‘Food tricks’ help deep sea creatures survive an asteroid attack that wipes out dinosaurs
“Algae plankton turned to hunting to survive and recover from the late Cretaceous impact darkness” Scientific advance (Year 2020). Progress.sciencemag.org/lookup… .1126 / sciadv.abc9123
Provided by University of California – Riverside
Quote: In order to survive the asteroid impact, algae learned to hunt (2020, October 30) retrieved October 30, 2020 from https://phys.org/news/2020-10- survive-asteroid-impact-algae.html
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