A study finds that global warming caused a reptile boom millions of years ago

By TechThop Team

Posted on: 22 Aug, 2022

The Permian geologic period ended with two major extinctions of species on Earth. Extinction of this magnitude occurred 252 million years ago, wiping out 86% of all animal species. 

The event also marked the beginning of a new era in which reptile populations on land boomed. Reptiles and their evolution have been attributed to the extinction of their competitors by scientists.

A new study has indicated that the reason for the boom in reptile population is not because of mass extinction, but rather it is due to global warming.

The Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University, in collaboration with the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, has discovered that reptiles evolved much earlier than previously thought.

'We found that these periods of the rapid evolution of reptiles were closely linked to increasing temperatures. Tiago R Simoes, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Texas, said reptiles are evolving faster than ever before. 

As part of the study, he was also the lead author. The researchers examined the early amniotes that were the forerunners of all modern mammals, such as birds, reptiles, and their closest extinct relatives.

The researchers created a dataset of over 1,000 fossils collected from 125 species of synapsids, reptiles, and their close relatives between 140 million years and the end of the Permian.

The data was analyzed and tried to detect the origin of these species and the rate at which they evolved. The new dataset was then compared against geological records of global temperatures millions of years ago.

The rapid anatomical changes in most reptiles accompany periods of rapid climatic change and global warming, according to researchers.

As part of this investigation, the team also assessed how the reptiles' body size changed during this time frame. As a result of the high climatic pressure on the body, there was a maximum body size for reptiles who could survive the hot season in tropical regions.

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