Four of Europe’s top universities have joined forces to find the source of our planet’s overheating, and eventually found that this phenomenon was caused by the evolution of the first Earth’s animals about 500 million years ago.
This study was published in the journal Nature Communications and was carried out in collaboration with the following Universities: Exeter University, Leeds, Antwerp and Vrije Universiteit Brussel. The study suggests that between 520 and 540 million years ago, life in the ocean developed and began to break down organic matter into seawater, leading to more carbon dioxide and a reduction in oxygen in the water.
So, over the next 100 million years, the conditions for these first marine species became much tougher, as oxygen levels in the ocean fell and on the other hand increased carbon dioxide, causing global warming. “As with worms in a garden, tiny creatures on the bottom disrupt, mix and recycle dead organic material in marine soil – a process known as bioturbation,” said Professor Tim Lenton of the University of Exeter.
Scientists said that while they saw a decrease in oxygen levels in the ocean about 520 million years ago, the data they analyzed from the underwater rocks showed that the sediment was a little disturbed.
Professor Simon Poulton of the University of Leeds explained: “This means that the animals that lived in seawater at the time were not very active and did not move very deep into the seabed. At first glance, these two observations do not appear to add any compelling evidence to the case. ”
They then found the “missing piece of the puzzle” when they realized that the biggest changes were made to the lowest levels of the seas that had been an animal activity, which meant that the first negative impacts had a “huge impact” on global warming.
To achieve this, scientists built a mathematical model of the Earth at that time to examine the changes caused by these early forms of life. “When we ran our model, we noticed certain things that made us feel special,” said Dr. Benjamin Mills, also from the University of Leeds, who was one of the main researchers in this research.
“The evolution of these small animals actually reduced oxygen in the ocean but also increased the levels of carbon dioxide in seawater to such an extent that it caused the phenomenon of global warming. We knew that the phenomenon of overheating occurred at this time in Earth’s history, but we did not know it was caused by the marine creatures living on the seabed,” he said.
Scientists have finally come to the conclusion that this process has made the conditions for marine creatures worse, possibly contributing to a series of massive extinction events of some species during the first 100 million years of their evolution