Surge in oxygen levels led to explosion of life: study

Surge in oxygen levels led to explosion of life: study

Context:

  • Recently studies say that a boost in levels of oxygen may have caused a three-fold increase in biodiversity during between 445 and 485 million years ago.

Why is it in news?

  • This study suggests that atmospheric oxygen levels did not reach and maintain modern levels for millions of years after the Cambrian explosion.
  • In fact, the oxygenation of the atmosphere and Shallow Ocean took millions of years.
  • And it was only when shallow seas became progressively oxygenated were the major pulses of diversification able to take place.

What has been found?

  • Researchers were able to identify an oxygen increase during the Middle and Late Ordovician periods.
  • They also found:
  • 80% increase in oxygen levels where oxygen constituted about 14% of the atmosphere during the Darriwilian Stage (Middle Ordovician 460-465 million years ago) and
  • Increased to as high as 24% of the atmosphere by the mid-Katian (Late Ordovician 450-455 million years ago).

The three fold increase:

  • The explosion of diversity, recognised as the Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event, brought about:
  • the rise of various marine life,
  • tremendous change across species families and types,
  • as well as changes to the Earth, starting at the bottom of the ocean floors.

Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event:

  • The Ordovician radiation, or the great Ordovician biodiversification event (GOBE), was an evolutionary radiation of animal life throughout the Ordovician period, 40 million years after the Cambrian explosion.
  • The distinctive Cambrian fauna fizzled out to be replaced with a Palaeozoic fauna rich in suspension feeder and pelagic animals.
  • It brought about rise of various marine lives, tremendous change across species families and types, as well as changes to the Earth, starting at the bottom of the ocean floors.
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