In the history of our planet, there have been five devastating mass extinction events, and it looks like plants have survived it better than animals
According to researchers, plants live in every terrestrial environment and have been living like this for the last 400 million years.
The latest study conducted by a team of scientists from the University of Gothenburg demonstrated how strong plants really are.
The researchers analyzed more than 20,000 plant fossils to determine the effects of mass extinctions on plants.
Daniele Silvestro, one of the lead researchers, explained that mass extinctions in the plant kingdom can be seen as a new opportunity for plants to renew their biodiversity.
One of the most devastating mass extinction events happened during the Cretaceous-Paleogene period, when a massive asteroid hit the Earth off the Mexican coast. This mass extinction event took place approximately 66 million years ago.
This event modified the way terrestrial habitats were configured and led to the mass extinction of all species of dinosaurs.
Researchers were very surprised to discover that this mass extinction event had very limited effects on the plant diversity.
Also, this event helped flowering plants dominate the global diversity of plant groups we have today.
Alexandre Antonelli, one of the authors of the study, explained that although mass extinctions are considered to be a destructive and negative thing, they have played an important role in shaping the world we have today.
If there wasn’t for mass extinctions, dinosaurs would have probably still roamed the Earth, mammals would still be very tiny and the human species might not have evolved at all.
The researchers published the results of the new study in the journal New Phytologist.
Antonelli explains that it’s important to study these extreme events in order to determine which groups of living organisms are more affected by changes. This way they could apply the knowledge and protect Earth’s biodiversity from the damaging consequences of climate change, which leads to the destruction of many natural ecosystems.
Image Source: karbalion