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Asteroid that wiped out dinosaurs allowed flowers to flourish in post-apocalyptic world

Scientists have discovered that flowering plants were largely unaffected by the Cretaceous-Paleogene (K-Pg) mass extinction 66 million years ago, benefiting from a new planet devoid of dinosaurs. The giant asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs at the end of the Cretaceous period (145 to 66 million years ago) left flowers relatively unscathed, and the flowers later bloomed, a new study shows.

When an asteroid hit Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula 66 million years ago, Earth lost three-quarters of its species, including non-avian dinosaurs. Scientists call this catastrophic period the Cretaceous-Paleogene (K-Pg) mass extinction.

New simulations show that despite widespread devastation, large families of flowering plants called angiosperms adapted enough to survive the deadly event and produce fruit, according to a study published Sept. 13 in the journal Biology Letters.

“After most of Earth’s species became extinct in the K-Pg, angiosperms took advantage, just as mammals replaced dinosaurs, and nearly all life on Earth is now ecologically dependent on flowering plants,” said Jamie, lead author of the study. ThompsonDr. D., a postdoctoral evolutionary biologist at the University of Bath in England. expression.

Researchers have difficulty identifying flowering plants from the fossil record; According to a 2008 study in the journal Papers of the Paleontological Society, most of the records consist of isolated leaves that are not connected to other plant organs. There is evidence that flowering plants went extinct after an asteroid impact, but there was no widespread decline like other types of organisms.

To learn more about how flowering plants responded to K-Pg extinction, the authors of the new study examined previously mapped major lineages of flowering plants based on DNA mutations in thousands of species.

They used mathematical models to predict that flowering plants experienced a relatively steady rate of extinction over time; There was no evidence of a mass extinction. This means that although individual species were wiped out during the event, larger family groups survived, according to the study. Many of the flowering plant families we see today appeared before the K-Pg event, and the ancestors of modern orchids, magnolias, and mint trees lived alongside dinosaurs. After the K-Pg extinction, surviving flowering plants spread and diversified.

“Flowering plants are highly adaptable: they use a variety of mechanisms for seed dispersal and pollination, some copy their entire genomes, while others evolve new photosynthesis pathways,” study co-author Santiago Ramirez-Baraona said. researcher This is stated in the statement of the National Autonomous University of Mexico. “This power of flowers makes them truly alive in nature.” Source

Source: Port Altele



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