Ancient mountains may have made life prosperous on earth

New research has discovered that large mountain range erosion may have provided important oxygen and nutrients that spurred the development of the Earth’s first organisms.

“Today there is nothing similar to these two ranges,” said lead author and geochemist Ziyi Zhu in a February 3 release.

Zhu et al. Discovered by tracking traces of low lutetium-rich zircon found only in alpine roots.

“It’s not just their height. Imagine a 2,400-kilometer-long Himalaya repeated three or four times to see how big it is,” Zhu said of them. paper Published in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters.

They found that the largest of these super mountains were formed only twice. The first is when the tectonic plates from 2 to 1.8 billion years ago collide and the second is from 650 to 500 million years ago.

These two periods correspond to major advances in the development of historical organisms.

“What is surprising is that the entire record of time-honored mountain architecture is very clear. This shows these two big spikes, one related to the emergence of animals and the other. It is associated with the emergence of large, complex cells, “said Jochen Brocks, co-author and professor of earth sciences at the Australian National University.

The first ancient formation is called Nuna Super Mountain.

“It is consistent with the potential for the emergence of eukaryotes, the organisms that later gave birth to plants and animals,” Zhu said.

Epoch Times Photo
Submerged stone ruins in an ancient harbor next to the ancient city of Amathus on the eastern Mediterranean island of Cyprus on Thursday, July 1, 2021. (AP Photo / Petros Karadjias)

“The second, known as the Trans Gondwanan Super Mountain, coincides with the appearance of the first large animal 575 million years ago and the Cambrian explosion 45 million years later, with most animal groups in fossil records. It has appeared. “

These mountains may also have increased the levels of atmospheric oxygen required for the development of complex life.

“The increase in atmospheric oxygen associated with the erosion of the Trans Gondwanan Super Mountain was the largest in Earth’s history and an essential prerequisite for the emergence of animals,” said Zhu.

Their erosion also provided the ocean with nutrients such as phosphorus and iron that are essential for the growth of marine plants that form the basis of our food chain.

“The slowdown in evolution was due to the absence of Super Mountain during that period, which reduced the supply of nutrients to the ocean,” said co-author Professor Ian Campbell.

Scientists have the name of this era of tranquility.

“The 1.8-800 million-year-old time interval is known as the bowling virion because of little or no evolutionary progress,” Campbell said.

“This study gives us a marker so we can better understand the evolution of early complex life.”

Jesse Chan


Jessie Zhang is a Sydney-based journalist who reports on Australian news. She holds a bachelor’s degree in commerce and music. Contact her at [email protected]