Evolution of Tree Roots Triggered Series of Devonian Mass Extinctions, Study Suggests

The Devonian period, which occurred 419 to 358 million years ago, prior to the evolution of life on land, is known for a series of catastrophic mass extinction events, during which it’s estimated nearly 70% of all life on Earth went extinct. New research shows that the evolution of tree roots likely flooded past oceans with excess nutrients, causing massive algae growth; these destructive algae blooms would have depleted most of the oceans’ oxygen, triggering mass extinctions.

[Evidence comes from] utilizing geochemical records from ancient lake deposits in Greenland, northern Scotland, and Orkney.

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