Carnivorous phytoplankton “saved the planet after the dinosaurs”



When it gets dark, carnivores lurk: when an asteroid fell to Earth and wiped out the dinosaurs, plunging the planet into darkness, some species of phytoplankton turned to carnivores to survive in the dark oceans – helping to create the The prevailing theory is that dinosaurs, along with most of life on Earth, became extinct when an asteroid about 10 kilometers in diameter fell on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula 66 million years ago. Huge amounts of dust and gas hid the sun, lowered the temperature and increased the acidity of the oceans, triggering a wave of mass extinction that changed land and sea. Andrew Ritzwell of the University of California, Riverside, a member of the research team presenting the new study in Science Advances, a review by the Nature group. “We wanted to look at how the Earth’s oceans avoided this ending, and how marine ecosystems evolved after the catastrophe.” Microscopic Fossils To provide an answer, researchers examined microscopic, well-preserved phytoplankton surviving fossils. The fossils belonged to “coccolithophores”, a group of monocytes, photosynthetic organisms that survive to this day in the oceans. But how could organisms survive in the dark, when there was no longer enough light for photosynthesis. The answer was given by the examination of the fossils in combination with computer models that show how the nutritional preferences of the cobblers may have evolved. The fossilized cobblers had a calcium carbonate shell, in which numerous holes were found. “These holes indicate that the cells had whips, thin, long protrusions that allow some single-celled organisms to swim.” The only reason something moves is to find its prey, “Ritzwell explains. In other words, the coccolithophores, which until then provided energy through photosynthesis, like today’s plants, suddenly began to hunt their prey, like the dead cells of other organisms that died in destruction. When the dust clouds receded and the sun receded reappeared, carnivorous coccolithophores spread from the shallow coastal waters to the oceans, where they remained the dominant life form for millions of years – and thus formed the basis for the re-creation of a global food chain. “The findings highlight both its exceptional adaptability and oceans as well as their ability to evolve rapidly, “comments Ritzwell. correspond to a significant part of primary production in the oceans But they are facing a new threat, as climate change is lowering the pH of the water and preventing these microorganisms from forming their calcareous shell. Let’s at least hope that they survive this timeā€¦ all the latest News from Greece and the World, at



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