London: Scientists have revealed that global warming devastated tropical rainforests 300 million years ago, which triggered an evolutionary burst among reptiles -- and inadvertently paved the way for the rise of dinosaurs, 100 million years later.
This event occurred during the Carboniferous Period. At that time, Europe and North America lay on the equator and were covered by steamy tropical rainforests.
But when the Earth`s climate became hotter and drier, rainforests collapsed, triggering reptile evolution.
Dr Howard Falcon-Lang of Royal Holloway, University of London, who carried out the research, revealed this global warming indirectly caused the evolution of mammals.
“We now know that this climate change caused the rainforests to fragment into small ``islands`` of forest,” the Daily Mail quoted Dr Howard Falcon-Lang of Royal Holloway, University of London, who carried out the research, as saying.
“This change isolated populations of reptiles and caused each community to evolve in a different direction leading to an increase in diversity.
“The global warming set in motion the process which led to the evolution of dinosaurs and produced different species which adapted to the climate in different ways.
“We have discovered for the first time how this evolution occurred after analysing hundreds of fossils from around the globe.
“This initial burst of global warming significantly affected the evolution of the world and led reptiles to evolve into dinosaurs, birds and mammals,” Falcon-Lang added.
The new findings were published in the journal Geology.