Sunday, November 27, 2011

Diversity of Life Snowballed When Ancient Earth Was Frozen Solid

Date: 24 November 2011 Time: 04:22 PM ET
arthropods, including a trilobite and a chelicerate
Arthropods from the Burgess shale, such as the trilobite Olenoides and a chelicerate called Sidneyia, exploded in morphological diversity following the so-called Cambrian Explosion.
CREDIT: Smithsonian Institution, Courtesy of Douglas Erwin
Ancient animals may have started their drive toward explosive diversity back when the Earth was a giant snowball, new research suggests.
A startling expansion in the diversity of life forms began about 540 million years ago, early in the Cambrian period. During this apparently sudden outburst, known as the Cambrian explosion, all the major groups of animals seemed to materialize rapidly. Scientists have debated the causes of this great flowering of life for centuries.



Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
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