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    Possible links between extreme oxygen perturbations and the Cambrian radiation of animals

    He, T. and Zhu, M. and Mills, B. and Wynn, P. and Zhuravlev, A. and Tostevin, R. and Pogge von Strandmann, Philip A.E. and Yang, A. and Poulton, S. and Shields, G. (2019) Possible links between extreme oxygen perturbations and the Cambrian radiation of animals. Nature Geoscience 12 , pp. 468-474. ISSN 1752-0894.

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    The role of oxygen as a driver for early animal evolution is widely debated. During the Cambrian explosion, episodic radiations of major animal phyla occurred coincident with repeated carbon isotope fluctuations. However, the driver of these isotope fluctuations and potential links to environmental oxygenation are unclear. Here, we report high-resolution carbon and sulphur isotope data for marine carbonates from the south-eastern Siberian Platform, which documents the canonical explosive phase of the Cambrian radiation from ~524 to ~514 Myr ago. These analyses demonstrate a strong positive covariation between carbonate  13C and carbonate-associated sulphate  34S through five isotope cycles. Biogeochemical modelling suggests that this isotopic coupling reflects periodic oscillations in atmospheric O2 and the extent of shallow ocean oxygenation which, remarkably, directly coincides with episodic maxima in biodiversity of animal phyla. Conversely, the subsequent Botoman–Toyonian animal extinction events (~514 to ~512 Myr ago) coincided with decoupled isotope records that suggest a shrinking marine sulphate reservoir and expanded shallow marine anoxia. These observations demonstrate that fluctuations in oxygen availability in the shallow marine realm exerted a primary control on the timing and tempo of biodiversity radiations at a crucial phase in the early history of animal life.


    Item Type: Article
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Science > School of Natural Sciences
    Depositing User: Philip Pogge Von Strandmann
    Date Deposited: 02 Oct 2019 13:48
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 17:54


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