Shrimp and worms are first animals to recover after Permian extinction, researchers find


Burrowing animals were the first to recover just after the late Permian mass extinction, according to studies examining ancient seabed paths and burrows.

Researchers from China, the United States and the United Kingdom describe how life in the sea managed to recover from the event, which killed more than 90% of species on Earth, in a new study just released. to be published in the journal Science Advances.

Permian Mass Extinction

(Photo: LUIS ACOSTA/AFP via Getty Images)

The End Permian Extinction (EPE), which also wiped out more than 90% of marine species and more than 70% of terrestrial species, was the worst biotic dilemma in earth’s history, according to .

By studying the S isotopic composition of the EPE in the Sydney Basin, researchers led by Dr Li Menghan from the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences found that a high S isotope reduction coincided with terrestrial extinction.

They found that sulfate aerosols cause both long-term global warming and short-term global cooling. The extinction of marine species and the mechanisms underlying it have received much attention in environmental and EPE research, while research findings on the extinction of terrestrial life appear to be rare.

The information showed that the extinction of terrestrial organisms in the Sydney Basin occurred between 200,000 and 600,000 years before the global marine extinction.

Based on this, the team hypothesized that associated sulfur cycling processes in sulphate-deficient lake systems may have produced the high S isotope combinations of Sydney Basin pyrite pre-extinction.

The data showed that the extinction of terrestrial species in the Sydney Basin preceded the global marine extinction by around 200,000 to 600,000 years.

Strong S isotope reduction was found to coincide with terrestrial extinction, which occurred in three stages.

Read more: Toxic soup: World’s worst mass extinction killed thousands of animals 252 million years ago

Animal recovers in mass extinction

It took millions of years for biodiversity to return to pre-extinction levels after the mass extinction at the end of the Permian 252 million years ago, according to ScienceDaily.

The international team, however, was able to piece together the resurgence of marine life by determining what animal activity was taking place there by investigating tracks as well as burrows on the seabed in southern China.

The late Permian mass extinction and early Triassic return to life are well recorded in southern China, according to Professor Michael Benton of the School of Earth Sciences at the University of Bristol, co – author of the new article.

The study was led by Dr Xueqian Feng of China University of Geosciences in Wuhan, and he focused on historic trails and burrows.

He explained that fossil traces like trails and burrows mainly represent soft-bodied marine animals. The majority of these soft-bodied creatures lacked or had weak skeletons.

Massive amounts of perfectly preserved trace fossils can be found in southern China in some amazing localities, and the details may reveal infaunal ecosystem engineering behaviors as well as their positive feedback on the biodiversity of skeleton animal species.

Study leader Professor Zhong-Qiang Chen said: Fossil traces reveal when and where soft-bodied burrowing animals thrived in this Early Triassic greenhouse environment.

One of the most notable features of the South China data is the range of ancient environments we could collect, said University of Southern California study collaborator Professor David Bottjer.

Another member of the team, Dr Chunmei Su, said: Mass extinction has killed over 90% of species on this planet, and we are seeing the disastrous reduction in ecosystem functioning of the remaining marine animals.

Alison Cribb of the University of Southern California, a collaborator on the study, added that the recovery of suspension feeders, such as brachiopods, bryozoans and many bivalves, took much longer. The first creatures to be collected were deposit feeders, such as worms and shrimp.

Related article: One of the world’s largest mass extinctions may have been triggered by a volcanic winter

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