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The study, published this week in the journal Geology, has provided new data on how and why life recovered so quickly in the area where the asteroid that wiped out thedinosaurs (Chicxulub, in the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico).
The investigation, reported on Wednesday by the University of Granada In a statement, it shows the rapid diversification and stabilization of the benthic community (the one formed by the organisms that inhabit the bottom of aquatic ecosystems), after the impact of the asteroid that caused the mass extinction at the end of the Cretaceous (K- Pg).
And it reveals that, after the rapid initial recovery of some organisms, which occurred in the range of a few dozen years, life on the crater's seabed returned to levels of abundance and diversity similar to those prior to the impact. in just 700,000 years, a significantly fast time on a geological scale.
The impact of the asteroid took place about 66 million years ago, and caused one of the five great (Big Five) mass extinctions of the Phanerozoic, the one corresponding to the limit Cretaceous / Paleogene that caused the disappearance of dinosaurs from the face of the Earth.
It is a 180-kilometer-diameter crater caused by this asteroid, whose violence has been compared to that of a billion atomic bombs.
The impact significantly altered the environment at a global level, producing large earthquakes of a magnitude greater than 11 on the Richter Scale, tsunamis between 100 and 300 meters high, temperature increases, fires at distances between 1,500 and 4,000 kilometers from the crater and acid rains, among other catastrophes.
As a consequence, around 70% of the marine and continental species that lived in that period became extinct, which meant a great change in the evolution of life on Earth, with importance on the species that inhabit today.
Icnological analysis Previous studies carried out in the Chicxulub impact crater have already shown the rapid initial community recovery after impact.
The objective of the new research was to evaluate the different phases of evolution after the impact of the asteroid, and to gauge when the complete recovery of the benthic community took place until reaching levels of diversity and abundance similar to those before the impact.
The results obtained by the professor of the Department of Stratigraphy and Paleontology of the University of Granada Francisco Javier Rodríguez-Tovar reveal that, approximately 700,000 years after the impact (a significantly rapid time on a geological scale), the community of trace-generating organisms had fully recovered, as evidenced by the abundant record of Chondrites, Palaeophycus, Planolites and Zoophycos.
"However, this recovery was not abrupt, but the product of different phases of diversification, stabilization and consolidation," he details. Based on the characteristics of the traces and the organisms that generated them, the importance of biological productivity as the key factor in this rapid recovery is confirmed, he explains.
The work also compares the data obtained with those from other great extinctions of the Phanerozoic, such as the corresponding to the end of the Permian, and reveals similar patterns in the recovery after the mass extinction event, but with a large difference in terms of the time involved in this recovery, which was much lower after extinction at the end of the Cretaceous.
The results and conclusions open a new line of study of mass extinctions, of great importance in the evolution of life on Earth and its recovery after extreme environmental changes.
Via: University of Granada