Burrowing animals first to recover after Permian mass extinction: new study


Burrowing animals such as shrimp and worms were found to be among the first to recover after the mass extinction at the end of the Permian around 252 million years ago. Also called the “Great Dying”, the event is believed to have killed around 90% of all life on Earth by the end of the Permian period.

The findings are based on a new study conducted by an international team of scientists from China, the United States and the United Kingdom. The team led the discovery as they studied ancient seafloor burrows and pathways, finding that bottom-dwelling species were the first to return in a post-extinction world.

Various researches in the fields of geology and paleontology point out that a series of massive volcanic eruptions in present-day Siberia caused the global Permian catastrophe. The phenomenon ended the life of various animal and plant species, long before dinosaurs and mammals roamed the blue planet.

The discovery highlights the importance of the seabed and the biological ability to hide beneath the ground. In contemporary times, this burrowing behavior is still possessed by certain groups of animals, including mammals, crustaceans, sea urchins, insects, spiders, and clams.

Recovery from extinction

(Photo: JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP via Getty Images)

The new article on the subject was published in Scientists progress. In the study, scientists trace fossils of 26 sections on the seabed of southern China, magnifying 7 million years crucial and 400 sample points for reconstructing the post-extinction recovery of burrowing animals.

According to Dr. Xueqian Feng, lead author of the study and staff member of the University of China, documentation of fossil traces such as trails and burrows were left by most of the soft-bodied animals of the oceans of the world, as in the case of shrimps and worms. geosciences, quoted by Phys.org.

Feng and the team also noted that there were only a very small number of survivors after the Permian Mass Extinction. However, the recovery of life began in deeper waters, which were probably untouched or less affected by the prehistoric natural disaster.

While life still managed to survive, said ancient extinction event caused the annihilation of some important marine animals, including trilobites that have lived in the oceans for more than 250 million years, according to the Sam Noble Museum.

Read also : The Permian Mass Extinction Happened in the Geological Blink of an Eye

burrowing behavior

Burrowing behavior refers to the ability and tendency of some animals to dig a hole or tunnel for the purpose of habitation or temporary refuge, according to National geographic.

The so-called “terrier” is intended to protect an animal from predators and even from the climate such as extreme weather conditions, heat and cold temperatures.

Burrows also have other functions called “pantries” where animals store their collected food. Additionally, it may be the result of “locomotion” when the animals move from a different location.

This behavior even dates back hundreds of millions of years, as the new study points out.

In Australia, a 110 million year old dinosaur burrow has been discovered on the southeast coast of the country, making it the oldest known dinosaur burrow. In the United States, a similar prehistoric burrow was discovered in the state of Montana in 2006, as mentioned by Nat Geo.

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

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