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Did cooling oceans trigger Ordovician biodiversification? Evidence from conodont thermometry.

Authors
Type
Published Article
Journal
Science
0036-8075
Publisher
American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
Publication Date
Volume
321
Issue
5888
Pages
550–554
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1126/science.1155814
PMID: 18653889
Source
Medline

Abstract

The Ordovician Period, long considered a supergreenhouse state, saw one of the greatest radiations of life in Earth's history. Previous temperature estimates of up to approximately 70 degrees C have spawned controversial speculation that the oxygen isotopic composition of seawater must have evolved over geological time. We present a very different global climate record determined by ion microprobe oxygen isotope analyses of Early Ordovician-Silurian conodonts. This record shows a steady cooling trend through the Early Ordovician reaching modern equatorial temperatures that were sustained throughout the Middle and Late Ordovician. This favorable climate regime implies not only that the oxygen isotopic composition of Ordovician seawater was similar to that of today, but also that climate played an overarching role in promoting the unprecedented increases in biodiversity that characterized this period.

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