October 3, 2011
Reefs Recovered Faster After Mass Extinction Than First Thought
Harsh living conditions caused by major fluctuations in the carbon content and sea levels, overacidification and oxygen deficiency in the seas triggered the largest mass extinction of all time at the end of the Permian era 252 million years ago. Life on Earth was also anything but easy after the obliteration of over 90 percent of all species: Throughout the entire Early Triassic era, metazoan-dominated reefs were replaced by microbial deposits. Researchers had always assumed it took the Earth as long as five million years to recover from this species collapse. Now, however, an international team, including the paleontologist Hugo Bucher from the University of Zurich and his team of researchers, has proven that reefs already existed again in the southwest of what is now the USA 1.5 million years after the mass extinction. These were dominated by metazoan organisms such as sponges, serpulids and other living creatures, the researchers report in Nature Geoscience.
Growth thanks to new reef-forming metazoan organisms
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