Millions of Years Ago Global Warming Triggered Reptile Boom: Study Says

Millions of Years Ago Global Warming Triggered Reptile Boom: Study Says

The two largest mass extinctions of species on Earth occurred at the end of the Permian geological period. Such was the magnitude that the extinction that occurred 252 million years ago wiped out 86% of all animal species. This event also marked the beginning of a new era where the reptile population on land increased rapidly. Until now, scientists believed that the increase in the number of reptiles and their evolution led to the extinction of their competitors. But, a new study indicates that global warming, rather than the mass extinction, was behind the boom in reptile populations and diversity.

Researchers from the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology and the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University have revealed that the evolution of reptiles began much earlier than previously thought.

“We found that these periods of rapid development of reptiles were closely linked to rising temperatures. Some groups changed really rapidly and some less rapidly, but almost all reptiles were evolving much faster than previously thought.” ” Told Postdoctoral fellow Tiago R. Simos. He . He is also the lead author of the study published in science advance,

The team examined early amniotes that represent the forerunners of all modern mammals such as birds, reptiles and their closest extinct relatives. They created a dataset using extensive first-hand data collection of more than 1,000 fossil samples from 125 species of synapsids, reptiles and their close relatives, about 140 million years before the Permian-Triassic mass extinction. Thereafter, they analyzed the data and tried to trace the origin of these species and the pace of their evolution.

The new dataset was then compared with global temperature data from millions of years ago in the geological record.

The researchers found that periods of rapid climate change and global warming were associated with rapid physiological changes in most reptiles as they adapted to changing environmental conditions.

The team also observed changes in the body shape of the reptiles during this period. They noted that the climatic pressure on the body was very high, leading to the maximum body size for reptiles that could survive in tropical regions during warm periods.

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