By Ellie Zolfagharifard for DailyMail.com | September 3, 2015
Did critters cause Earth’s first mass extinction? Fossils suggest animals and not a meteorite wiped out planet’s first microbes
- Earth’s first ever mass extinction event took place 540 million years ago
- This is when Ediacarans – immobile, tube-like creatures – were wiped out
- Some evolved into animals such as, mollusks, anthropoids and jellyfish
- It was these hungry creatures that killed off early Ediacarans, study says
Mass extinctions are usually blamed on rapid events, such as meteorite impacts and volcanic super-eruptions.
But the world’s first known mass extinction – which took place about 540 million years ago – was caused by something far more slow-moving: evolution.
A new study has found that Earth’s earliest microbes were wiped out by the evolution of complex life.
‘People have been slow to recognise that biological organisms can also drive mass extinction,’ said Simon Darroch, assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences at Vanderbilt University.
The earliest life on Earth consisted of microbes – various types of single-celled microorganisms.
They ruled the Earth for more than three billion years. Then some of these microorganisms discovered how to capture the energy in sunlight.
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Source: Fossils suggest animals and not a meteorite wiped out planet’s first ‘Ediacarans’ microbes | Daily Mail Online