According to a new study, the asteroid believed to have led to the dinosaurs’ extinction was seemingly not all bad as it also apparently helped frogs thrive.
These amphibians were traced back and are held as being some 200 million years old, and according to this latest research, they not only survived the mass extinction event, they also benefited from it. This latest study was carried out by a team of American and Chinese researchers. Research results are available in a paper in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.
Dinosaurs Die, Frogs Thrive?
Some 66 million years ago, an asteroid that hit Earth is believed to have led to the disappearance of dinosaurs, the then largest creatures on earth, and to a mass extinction event. But among them were not three frog lineages, the ancestors of 9 out of 10 frog species known today.
According to the latest study, these three lineages took advantage of the ‘vacuum’ generated by the disappearance of the other species. Namely, they not only survived, but they also started multiplying and diversifying into numerous other species in a very short time.
“It’s these three lineages that were at the right place and the right time and they just took off like crazy. They also rapidly increased in their use of habitats and their use of resources,” says David Wake, a herpetologist, and co-author of the new report.
The research team is as yet uncertain as to why only these three lineages and not others as well. Also, they point out that their direct, succeeding frog species started skipping steps in their evolution.
More precisely, these seemingly began laying their eggs directly on land. In doing so, they completely skipped the tadpole phase.
There are around 6,775 known frog species and around half of them still present this trait, according to Wake.
Wake and his colleagues consider that this study not only shows that frogs thrive even in times of need. It also points out their ability to “take advantage of opportunities”.
The study also showed that there still are remnants of other pre-asteroid lineages as well around the world. Nonetheless, the researchers will be looking to determine what helped these particular lines survive and evolve so much faster than the others.
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