The development of the first animals on Earth over 500 million years ago sparked a global warming phenomenon, decomposing the organic matter on the ocean floor and producing more CO2. In the next 100 million years, it became much harder for the first animals as ocean levels of oxygen plummeted, and the carbon dioxide contributed to the earliest climate change phenomenon ever recorded.
The study, which is available from the Universities of Exeter, Leeds, and Antwerp, and the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, is also published in Nature Communications.
“Like worms in a garden, small creatures on the seabed disturb, mix and recycle dead organic matter, a process known as bioturbation. Because the effect of the animal burrow is so great, one would expect to see great changes in the environment when the entire ocean floor changes from an undisturbed to a bioturbed state,” explained Tim Lenton from the University of Exeter.
The first animals on Earth have triggered a global warming phenomenon
The scientists studied rocks and sediments and noticed a sudden drop in oxygen levels, corroborated by a brief increase in CO2, which took place about 520 million years ago, right during the period when it is thought that the first animals on Earth emerged.
“This meant that the animals living on the seabed at the time were not very active and did not move very deeply on the seabed,” added Simon Poulton from the University of Leeds. However, as the researcher pointed out, the oxygen drop and the emergence of first animals on Earth didn’t sum up.
The scientists then studied the activity of seabed animals 500 million years ago, as other studies described it, and observed that only at the lowest levels of animal activity such a phenomenon could happen. In this regard, Sebastiaan van de Velde from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, the leading author of the study, said that “the first bioturbators had a massive impact,” so significant that it triggered global warming.
The study concluded that the first animals on Earth triggered global warming 500 million years ago, which harshened the living condition on the planet and might have even led to several extinctions within the first 100 million years after the phenomenon occurred.
Erin VanDyke lives on her family farm and has more than 35 years of hands-on experience with the use of livestock guard dogs for predator control. On their farm, Jan and her family use corgis as herding dogs and have raised Shetland sheep, Fainting goats, Morgan and Trakehner horses, and historic breeds of chickens and turkeys. Erin is also an active beekeeper.