Asteroid impact gave rise to tropical flowering plants
Today’s Video of the Day from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute describes how the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs changed the composition of Earth’s tropical rainforests.
The impacts of the asteroid wiped out 45 percent of all plants in what is now Colombia, which made way for the reign of flowering plants in modern tropical rainforests.
“We wondered how tropical rainforests changed after a drastic ecological perturbation such as the Chicxulub impact, so we looked for tropical plant fossils,” said study first author Mónica Carvalho. “Our team examined over 50,000 fossil pollen records and more than 6,000 leaf fossils from before and after the impact.”
According to the researchers, conifers disappeared almost completely from the New World tropics after the impact, and flowering plants became dominant.
“Our study follows a simple question: How do tropical rainforests evolve?” said Carvalho. “The lesson learned here is that under rapid disturbances – geologically speaking – tropical ecosystems do not just bounce back; they are replaced, and the process takes a really long time.”
Video Credit: Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute/ Monica Carvalho
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