Reptiles rapidly invaded the seas soon after a global extinction wiped out most life on Earth, according to a new study led by University of California, Davis, researchers.
Global climate change -- likely triggered by massive volcanic eruptions -- killed off more than 95 percent of all species about 250 million years ago, at the end of the Permian period. Land reptiles colonized the ocean in just 3.35 million years at the beginning of the Triassic, a speedy recovery in geologic time, the researchers report today (June 13) in the journal Scientific Reports.
"Our results fit with the emerging view that the recovery was faster than previously thought," said study co-author Ryosuke Motani, professor of paleobiology at UC Davis' Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences.
The research was led by Wanlu Fu, now of the Laboratory of Orogenic Belt and Crustal Evolution at Peking University. Fu conducted the research while an in-residence doctoral student working with study co-author Isabel Montañez, professor of geochemistry at UC Davis. Co-authors include scientists from the University of Wisconsin and the University of Milan in Italy. The fossils and rock samples were collected from Majiashan in Chaohu, South China.