Researchers have finally solved the mystery behind how exactly the first animals appeared on Earth. It has also been revealed that humans wouldn't exist on the planet without it.
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Scientists from the Australian National University (ANU) have unveiled this age old secret. They examined age old sedimentary rocks from central Australia and found that the rise of algae triggered an evolution of animals around 650 million years ago.
"We crushed these rocks to powder and extracted molecules of ancient organisms from them," said Jochen Brocks, associate professor at ANU and the lead researcher of this study.
"These molecules tell us that it really became interesting 650 million years ago. It was a revolution of ecosystems, it was the rise of algae," Brocks added.
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This ecological evolution is said to be one of the major ones which took place in Earth's history according to Brocks, as other flora and fauna wouldn't prevail without it.
"Before all of this happened, there was a dramatic event 50 million years earlier called Snowball Earth," he stated.
"The Earth was frozen over for 50 million years. Huge glaciers ground entire mountain ranges to powder that released nutrients, and when the snow melted during an extreme global heating event rivers washed torrents of nutrients into the ocean," he elucidated.
According to Brocks, a spurt took place in the population of algae because of the presence of extremely high levels of nutrients present in the ocean and the global temperatures lowered to a hospitable level which was convenient for the spreading of algae.
This could be defined as a transformation of bacteria-dominated oceans to a world comprising of complex life.
"These large and nutritious organisms at the base of the food web provided the burst of energy required for the evolution of complex ecosystems, where increasingly large and complex animals, including humans, could thrive on Earth," Brocks said.
Amber Jarrett, the co-lead researcher of this finding discovered ancient sedimentary rocks from central Australia that related directly to the period just after the melting of Snowball Earth, a statement by AUS revealed.
"In these rocks, we discovered striking signals of molecular fossils," said Jarrett, a PhD graduate at ANU Research School of Earth Sciences.
"We immediately knew that we had made a ground-breaking discovery that snowball Earth was directly involved in the evolution of large and complex life," Jarrett concluded.