The asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs at the end of the Cretaceous era wiped out many life on Earth. Although we know the development of this story, a group of scientists is now adding a new chapter. One is defined by flowers. In fact, scientists say that the groundbreaking space rock that immersed the Earth in Dino’s death is what gave our planet the dense, blooming rainforest we know today for the first time.
A team of scientists working at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in Panama set out to decipher the changes in the tropical rainforest after severe ecological disturbances. The Chicxulub impactor wiped out 45% of the plants in Colombia now and shrouded the entire world in darkness. This is a great opportunity to gain insight.
To study these changes, scientists studied tropical plant fossils in Central and South America. Including more than 50,000 pollen fossils and 6,000 leaf fossils before and after the impact. After comparison? The research team found that the dinosaur killer turned the sparse, conifer-rich rainforest into the denser and taller rainforest today. Vibrantly colored rainbow pineapples and overhanging orchids.
The scientists described their findings in a study recently published in the journal science (From BBC News) said that the fossil record implies that the forest canopy in tropical regions of the United States has changed from relatively open to closed and stratified. In turn, they say this leads to an increase in vertical stratification. Therefore, the diversity of plant growth forms is also greater.
The three central theories that scientists have that explain this shift are related to the impact of asteroids and the absence of dinosaurs. Scientists say that the first theory is that dinosaurs kept the forest “open” by eating and walking through the forest. The second is that fly ash from impact enriches tropical soils and provides advantages for faster-growing flowering plants. In the end, the preferential extinction of close friends makes flowering plants dominate.
“Our research follows a simple question: How does the tropical rain forest evolve?” Botanist and lead author Monica Carvalho said in a STRI press release. “The lesson learned is that, geographically speaking, tropical ecosystems will not only bounce back under rapid turbulence, but vice versa. Replacing them will take a long time.”
Feature image: Kirt Edblom
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