According to a recent study led by scientists from Mexico and the United Kingdom, flowering plants were discovered to have been generally “unharmed” despite the catastrophic extinction event brought on by the dinosaur-killing Chicxulub asteroid 66 million years ago.
The research shows that despite the Chicxulub impactor eradicating nearly all life on Earth, including flowering plants, several large groups of organisms known as angiosperms were still able to flourish in a planet devoid of non-avian dinosaurs.
According to earlier studies, scientists once believed that the planet destroying asteroid that struck Earth at the end of the Cretaceous period (145 million to 66 million years ago) wiped out the majority of animal and plant species, irrespective of their ancestry. However, Mexico and US studies demonstrate that the mass extinction event did not wipe off higher flowering plant lineages, ancient animals, or the ancestors of living things as we know them today.
We regularly encounter vascular plants with leaves, stalks, and roots called flowering plants, or angiosperms, in our surroundings. These plants, which include forbs, grasses, and plants that resemble grass, are made up of thousands of species that produce flowers and fruits.
There is no phylogenetic evidence of any angiosperm during the Cretaceous-Palaeogene mass extinction event, according to a study by Jamie Thompson from the University of Bath and Santiago Ramirez-Barahona from the National Autonomous University of Mexico that was published in the journal Biology Letters.
In the case of flowering plants (Angiospermae), the researchers asked whether the extinction event was a factor in the rise of the angiosperms.
Researchers from a different study that was published in the journal PNAS referenced Charles Darwin’s theory of angiosperm evolution. The rapid appearance of angiosperm in the fossil record was described by the English naturalist and evolutionist as a “abominable mystery” and “perplexing phenomenon.” This is important for those who think that evolution has occurred very gradually.
According to Darwin’s descriptions, angiosperms were able to rule Earth, particularly in the tropics and subtropics, and not only survived the Chicxulub mass extinction event. In addition to their incredible evolution, blooming plants have an ecologically significant role in the habitats of various creatures, including herbivores, predators, and pollinators like bees.
Author Thompson said angiosperms took the advantage after most of Earth’s living organisms became extinction. Just like mammals, Thompson adds flowering plants thrived after the dinosaurs. He emphasized how environmentally these plants today support all life on Earth.
The research team examined major flowering plant lineages that had previously been mapped from mutations in the DNA of thousands of species. This allowed them to determine how flowering plants responded to the Cretaceous-Paleogene mass extinction event.