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Finding an answer to Darwin's Dilemma

in the worlds oceans at the time these sediments accumulated in Avalon.

The close connection between the first appearance of oxygenated conditions in the worlds oceans and the first appearance of large animal fossils confirms the importance of oxygen as a trigger for the early evolution of animals, the researchers say. They hypothesize that melting glaciers increased the amount of nutrients in the ocean and led to a proliferation of single-celled organisms that liberated oxygen through photosynthesis. This began an evolutionary radiation that led to complex communities of filter-feeding animals, then mobile bilateral animals, and ultimately to the Cambrian "explosion" of skeletal animals 542 million years ago.


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Contact: Nancy Dorrance
dorrance@post.queensu.ca
613-533-2869
Queen's University
8-Dec-2006


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