Tiny fossils unlock clues to Earth’s climate half a billion years ago

by University of Leicester, May 9, 2018 in ScienceDaily

The research, published in Science Advances, suggests that early animals diversified within a climate similar to that in which the dinosaurs lived.

This interval in time is known for the ‘Cambrian explosion’, the time during which representatives of most of the major animal groups first appear in the fossil record. These include the first animals to produce shells, and it is these shelly fossils that the scientists used.

Data from the tiny fossil shells, and data from new climate model runs, show that high latitude (~65 °S) sea temperatures were in excess of 20 °C. This seems very hot, but it is similar to more recent, better understood, greenhouse climates like that of the Late Cretaceous Period.