Evolution of reptiles linked to global warming: studytext_fields
Unlike previously thought, the booming evolution of reptiles wasn't due to the extinction of their competitors but to global warming. Scientists have discovered that the era of reptiles began much earlier than previous studies thought.
As per older theories, 86% of the animal species were wiped out from Earth in an extinction event that took place 252 million years ago. A population of reptiles began growing right after this.
One of the notable changes in reptiles was in body size. There was a maximum body size for reptiles who could survive in the tropical regions due to the climatic pressure.
Experts at Harvard University have found that these periods of the rapid evolution of reptiles were intimately connected to increasing temperatures. Lead author Tiago R Simoes said some groups of reptiles evolved much faster and others less fast. "But nearly all reptiles were evolving much faster than they ever had before."
The new theory was formulated after examining the early amniotes representing the forerunners of all modern mammals including birds, reptiles, and closest extinct relatives. It suggests that evolution began way before the mass extinction.
The dataset was created by using over 1,000 fossil specimens from 125 species spanning over 140 million years before the mass extinction. It was compared with the global temperature data.
Scientists found that the periods of fast climatic shifts and global warming were linked to a rapid anatomical change in most reptiles. These animals were trying to adapt to the changing environmental conditions.