Washington: A new research has explored that a major tectonic event may have triggered the rise in sea level and other environmental changes that accompanied the apparent burst of animal life.
The study conducted at The University of Texas explored the geologic history that may help solve the riddle of the "Cambrian explosion" i.e. the rapid diversification of animal life in the fossil record 530 million years ago.
The surge of the evolution led to the sudden appearance of almost all modern animal groups. Fossils from the Cambrian explosion document the rapid evolution of life on Earth.
The sudden burst of new life is also called "Darwin's dilemma" because it appears to contradict Charles Darwin's hypothesis of gradual evolution by natural selection.
Ian Dalziel, a research professor at the Institute for Geophysics and a professor in the Department of Geological Sciences, said that at the boundary between the Precambrian and Cambrian periods, something big happened tectonically that triggered the spreading of shallow ocean water across the continents, which was clearly tied in time and space to the sudden explosion of multicellular, hard-shelled life on the planet.
Dalziel added that people have wondered for a long time what rifted off there, and it was probably North America, opening up this deep seaway and it appears ancient North America was initially attached to Antarctica and part of South America, not to Europe and Africa, as has been widely believed.
The study is published in the November issue of Geology.