Tags: earth | orbit | rotation | species | extinction | fossil study

Changes in the Earth's Orbit, Rotation Can Wipe Out Species, New Study of Fossils Suggests

Image: Changes in the Earth's Orbit, Rotation Can Wipe Out Species, New Study of Fossils Suggests

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By    |   Wednesday, 16 May 2018 12:03 PM

Changes in the Earth's orbit and rotation can wipe out whole species, a study of fossils of extinct creatures suggests.

The study was led by researchers from Victoria University who examined fossils of graptoloids, an extinct type of plankton that floated in ancient oceans, and it concluded that the evolution and extinction rates of these creatures may have been impacted by regular changes in the Earth's orbit and axis of rotation, PhysOrg on web-based Science X reported.

The relationship between Earth's orbital changes and extinction has never been documented in ancient ecosystems and, up until now, scientists have been locked in fierce debates as to whether environmental changes or interactions between species, such as competition for food, ultimately leads to extinction and evolution of species.

"With this study we can provide evidence of the impact of environmental changes on life on Earth," said Professor James Crampton from Victoria University's School of Geography, Environment, and Earth Science.

"The evolution cycle changes we see occurred relatively soon after the first evolution of complex ecosystems, and during one of the greatest bursts of biodiversity increase in the history of life."

To arrive at their findings, researchers turned their focus back as far as 480 million years to see how populations in the ancient plankton were influenced by changes in Earth's orbit and axis of rotation, Stuff.co.nz reported.

"We know that changes in Earth's orbit affects extinction and evolution," Crampton said, per PhysOrg. "What we're missing is the information in the middle – what was happening on Earth as a result of orbital changes that caused extinction or evolution."

Crampton noted that other research teams have been working to gather information about climate change between 400 and 500 million years ago "so that we can figure out exactly what the relationship is between climate changes and the plankton."

He added that understanding the evolution of plankton is also extremely important to understanding life on Earth today.

The microbe plays a vital role in maintaining a healthy marine life, but recently scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration noted that plankton levels were at their lowest in the North Atlantic region, signaling that ocean warming is affecting animal and plant biology.

This decline poses a threat to reproduction cycles.

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Changes in the Earth's orbit and rotation can wipe out whole species, a study of fossils of extinct creatures suggests. That's a more nuanced twist of the theory that explosions from space rocks hitting the Earth got rid of the dinosaurs.
earth, orbit, rotation, species, extinction, fossil study
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2018-03-16
Wednesday, 16 May 2018 12:03 PM
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