by Rutgers University, Dec 2, 2021 in WUWT
New Brunswick, N.J. (Dec. 1, 2021) – Using artificial intelligence techniques, an international team that included Rutgers-New Brunswick researchers have traced the evolution of coccolithophores, an ocean-dwelling phytoplankton group, over 2.8 million years.
Their findings, published this week in the journal Nature, reveal new evidence that evolutionary cycles in a marine phytoplankton group are related to changes in tropical seasonality, shedding light on the link between biological evolution and climate change.
Coccolithophores are abundant single-celled organisms that surround themselves with microscopic plates made of calcium carbonate, called coccoliths. Due to their photosynthetic activity, mineral production and widespread abundance throughout the world’s oceans, coccolithophores play an important role in the carbon cycle.
Scientists have long thought that climate changes’ effects on plants, animals and other organisms occur in cycles, which are reversed when each cycle is completed, thus erasing any small evolutionary changes during each cycle. In contrast, evolutionary changes, as known from the fossil record, are non-cyclic trends that occur over millions of years.