January 9, 2013
Jan. 8, 2013 — CO2 levels in fossil soils from the Late Jurassic confirm that climate, vegetation and animal richness varied across the planet 150 million years ago, suggesting future human changes to global climate will heavily impact plant and animal life.
In modern ecosystems, it's widely known that animals flourish in regions where the climate and landscape produce lush vegetation.
A new study set out to discover whether that same relationship held true 150 million years ago during the Late Jurassic when dinosaurs roamed Earth.
"The assumption has been that ancient ecosystems worked just like our modern ecosystems," said paleontologist and lead author Timothy S. Myers, Southern Methodist University, Dallas. "We wanted to see if this was, in fact, the case."
To test the theory, Myers analyzed fossil soils from the Late Jurassic by measuring the ratios of carbon isotopes. His analysis indicated that the Jurassic soils contained high levels of CO2 from vegetation.
From that, Myers was able to infer the presence of lush plant life in certain regions during the Jurassic....