The biodiversity on Earth at any one time is determined by newly found 36-million-year-long geological cycles.
In a groundbreaking discovery backed by new research, the belief that Earth is alive and active has received robust validation. Just as living beings possess biological clocks that regulate their daily lives, Earth also has its own geological clock, which controls the biodiversity present on our planet. Accordingly, the 4.54 billion-year-old life on Earth may only make up a minor portion of humans, who today rule the planet.
Marine biodiversity is significantly shaped by Earth’s dynamic nature, which is fueled by tectonic cycles and global sea level changes, according to researchers from the University of Sydney and the School of Geosciences at the Sorbonne University in Paris.
These cycles, lasting up to 36 million years each, have been operating for the past 250 million years since life began in the oceans.
Each of these cycles, containing tectonic shifts, alters the sea level, creating new habitats for the evolution of different life forms. As tectonic plates change and cause fluctuations in sea levels, continental shelves and shallow seas expand and contract, providing opportunities for organisms to thrive or face extinction.
The researchers arrived at their conclusions by comparing and correlating the study of these cycles with the fossil records of past species and the various sea-level fluctuations and internal mechanisms of the Earth.
The evidence from these studies indicates that these changes give rise to the emergence of new life forms, and the fossil records show the existence or extinction of specific species corresponding to these particular cycles, where geological shifts play an active role.
In an enlightening study recently published in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, Professor Dietmar Müller, one of the esteemed co-authors, vividly explains the mesmerizing dance of the sea level across the 36 million-year cycles.
These cycles, which are characterized by both sudden and gradual tectonic shifts, have a significant influence on the intriguing changes that occur in the deep water. This results in the drying up and flooding of continents, significantly impacting biodiversity in shallow seas.
As an example of the newly discovered 36 million-year cycles, the researchers point to the 95-million-year-old Cretaceous Winton Formation in Australia’s central-western Queensland.
This region is known for dinosaur fossils and valuable opals and serves as a window into the prehistoric era when Australia experienced periods of flooding and receding waters. The area is filled with sediments left by retreating seas, providing unique habitats for various species, including dinosaurs.
The reason for this phenomenon lies in the expansion and contraction of environmental processes in ancient shallow seas due to rising and falling sea levels. As the sea levels fluctuated, several species found new opportunities to thrive in different habitats.
As we delve deeper into the geological past, the evidence of these cycles becomes more apparent. Various geological formations around the world hold clues to the ancient interactions between tectonics and sea levels, shaping the destiny of countless species. Unraveling these mysteries helps us comprehend the ebb and flow of life on Earth and the delicate balance between geology and biology.
Moreover, this discovery has significant implications for our understanding of the future. By comprehending the relationship between tectonic cycles and biodiversity, we gain insights into how environmental changes impact the course of life on our planet.
As we face contemporary challenges such as climate change and habitat destruction, this knowledge becomes invaluable in predicting and mitigating potential consequences for the natural world.
In conclusion, this groundbreaking research sheds light on Earth’s vibrant and ever-changing nature, showcasing how its geological clock influences the evolution and diversity of life forms. The finding emphasises the intricate network of life that has grown and evolved on our planet over billions of years and the interconnectivity of geological processes.