You are here: Home » News-IANS » Science-Tech
Business Standard

Earth's first animals caused global warming: Study

Topics
Environment

IANS  |  London 

While global warming is deemed as the direct result of man-made activities, a new research has claimed that the climate change phenomenon was caused by the evolution of Earth's first animals more than 500 million years ago.

The study revealed that some 520-540 million years ago, animal life evolved in the ocean and began breaking down organic material on the seafloor, leading to more carbon dioxide (CO2) and less oxygen in the atmosphere.

In the 100 million years that followed, conditions for these earliest animals became much harsher, as ocean oxygen levels fell and CO2 caused global warming.

"Like worms in a garden, tiny creatures on the seabed disturb, mix and recycle dead organic material -- a process known as bioturbation," said Tim Lenton, Professor at Britain's University of Exeter.

"Because the effect of animals burrowing is so big, you would expect to see big changes in the when the whole ocean floor changes from an undisturbed state to a bioturbated state."

This impact of bioturbation on global biogeochemistry likely affected animal evolution through expanded ocean anoxia, high atmospheric CO2 levels and global warming and possibly contributed to a number of mass extinction events.

"The critical factor was to realise that the biggest changes happen at the lowest levels of animal activity," said Sebastiaan van de Velde, of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel in Belgium.

"This meant that the first bioturbators had a massive impact."

According to the researchers, this realization was the "missing piece of the puzzle", and allowed them to construct a mathematical model of Earth around that time to look to the changes caused by these early life forms.

"We knew that warming occurred at this point in Earth's history but did not realise it could be driven by animals," they said.

The researchers noted that "there is an interesting parallel between the earliest animals changing their world in a way that was bad for them, and what we human animals are doing to the planet now".

Lenton said: "We are creating a hotter world with expanding ocean anoxia (oxygen deficiency) which is bad for us and a lot of other creatures we share the planet with."

--IANS

rt/mag/him/

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

Dear Reader,


Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.
We, however, have a request.

As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.

Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.

Digital Editor

First Published: Mon, July 02 2018. 16:24 IST
RECOMMENDED FOR YOU
RECOMMENDED FOR YOU