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Possible links between extreme oxygen perturbations and the Cambrian radiation of animals

He, T; Zhu, M; Mills, B; Wynn, P; Zhuravlev, A; Tostevin, R; Pogge Von Strandmann, P; ... Shields, G; + view all (2019) Possible links between extreme oxygen perturbations and the Cambrian radiation of animals. Nature Geoscience , 12 pp. 468-474. 10.1038/s41561-019-0357-z. Green open access

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Abstract

The role of oxygen as a driver for early animal evolution is widely debated. During the Cambrian explosion, episodic radiations of major animal phyla occurred coincident with repeated carbon isotope fluctuations. However, the driver of these isotope fluctuations and potential links to environmental oxygenation are unclear. Here we report high-resolution carbon and sulfur isotope data for marine carbonates from the southeastern Siberian Platform that document the canonical explosive phase of the Cambrian radiation from ~524 to ~514 Myr ago. These analyses demonstrate a strong positive covariation between carbonate δ13C and carbonate-associated sulfate δ34S through five isotope cycles. Biogeochemical modelling suggests that this isotopic coupling reflects periodic oscillations in the atmospheric O2 and the extent of shallow-ocean oxygenation. Episodic maxima in the biodiversity of animal phyla directly coincided with these extreme oxygen perturbations. Conversely, the subsequent Botoman–Toyonian animal extinction events (~514 to ~512 Myr ago) coincided with decoupled isotope records that suggest a shrinking marine sulfate reservoir and expanded shallow marine anoxia. We suggest that fluctuations in oxygen availability in the shallow marine realm exerted a primary control on the timing and tempo of biodiversity radiations at a crucial phase in the early history of animal life.

Type: Article
Title: Possible links between extreme oxygen perturbations and the Cambrian radiation of animals
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1038/s41561-019-0357-z
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41561-019-0357-z
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Biogeochemistry, Carbon cycle, Element cycles, Palaeoceanography, Palaeontology
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences > Dept of Earth Sciences
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10073623
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