The contemporary ocean life was transformed by a global evolutionary shift, which took place almost 170 million years ago. Before the milestone, the life of marine organisms was heavily influenced by the presence of non-biological among which we can count climate and the chemical balance of the ocean. During the middle of the Jurassic period (approximately 170 million years ago), biological factors started to play a more significant role.
According to a team of researchers, the change began when the plankton which secretes calcium carbonate started to multiply at an accelerated rate and deposits appeared on the ocean floor. It is thought that the plankton led to the stabilization of the chemical composition of the ocean while also providing the conditions for one of the largest diversifications of marine life in the history of Earth.
The study was elaborated by an international team of researchers from the University of Erlangen Nuremberg in Germany, the University of Bergen from Norway, and the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences and the School of Computing, Electronics and Mathematics which are a part of the University of Plymouth.
Evolutionary Shift Changed Ocean Life About 170 Million Years Ago
The lead author of the study has stated that large areas of the ocean floor are covered with what can be compared with chalk, composed of the microscopic organisms which started to proliferate during the middle of the Jurassic period. The mass had a positive effect since it reduced the acidity of the ocean and established a stable chemical balance, favoring the spread of marine creatures which had a shell.
One of the aims was to prove was to evaluate a hypothesis which claimed that the evolutionary importance of the non-biological factors declined in time. The first multicellular life forms appeared almost 540 million years ago, but the changes brought by the variations of the biological and non-biological environments remained elusive until now.
Data collected during the study inferred that organisms which secreted minerals which were favored by the environment enjoyed an evolutionary advantage. The study was published in a scientific journal.