New evidence points to the plants they suffered the wrath of the event known as Great Extinction of the Triassic Permian long before many animal counterparts.
A few ago 252 million years, with the continental crust of the planet crushed in the supercontinent called Pangea, the volcanoes in the current Siberia they started to erupt.
Expelling carbon and methane into the atmosphere for approximately 2 million years, the eruption helped extinguish approximately 96 percent of ocean life and 70 percent of terrestrial vertebrates, the greater extinction event in the history of the Earth.
However, a new study led by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln suggests that a byproduct of the eruption, the nickel, may have led to the life of some Australian plants to extinction almost 400,000 years before most of the marine species died.
The researchers concluded by studying the fossilized pollen, the chemical composition and age of the rock and the layers of sediment in the cliffs of southeastern Australia. There they discovered surprisingly high concentrations of nickel in the mud rock of the Sydney basin, surprising because there are no local sources of the element.
Study author Tracy Frank, a professor of earth and atmospheric sciences, said the discovery points to the lava eruption through nickel deposits in Siberia. That volcanism could have turned nickel into a aerosol that moved thousands of kilometers south before descending, and poison Much of the plant life there. Similar tips on nickel have been registered in other parts of the world, it said in a statement.
If true, the phenomenon may have triggered a series of others: herbivores that die due to lack of plants, carnivores that die due to lack of herbivores and toxic sediments that are eventually released into the seas that are already recovering from the increase in carbon dioxide, acidification and temperatures.
The researchers detailed their findings in the journal Nature Communications.