A new study finds that reports of the Gorgon mass extinction at the end of the Permian period have been greatly exaggerated. These strange beasts were thought to have died out along with most other life on Earth at the time, but scientists have recently discovered that some of the so-called gorgons survived into the Triassic period. They didn’t survive long, the team said, leaving them “the walking dead”.
Analysis of three specimens found in the Karoo Basin of South Africa reveals that this saber-toothed group, known as gorgonopsians, were the dominant predators during the late last century. Permian period, managed to survive the “great death”. During this event, which occurred about 251.9 million years ago and was also known as the end-Permian extinction, about 90% of all species became extinct. The Gorgonopsians were an exception – but despite their survival, their prospects were not great.
“The Walking Dead Clyde is a term used in extinction studies that refers to when a group of organisms technically survives a mass extinction, but is so damaged by it that they never recover, lasting for a little while before finally disappearing,” a research associate on the project Christian Kammerer (Opens in a new tab)Curator of Research in Paleontology at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Science in Raleigh told Live Science in an email.
He explained that the walking dead may persist for millions of years after a mass extinction “but it does not re-diversify or reach great abundance in ecosystems, so they are already ‘dead’ from a macroevolutionary perspective.”
The research was presented November 3 at the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology’s annual conference in Toronto and has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal.
Related: The ancient saber-toothed “gorgons” bite each other in ritual combat
Gorgonopsians—named after mythical, monstrous Greek gorgons, whose appearance could turn people into stone—were around long before dinosaurs They appeared during the Triassic period, about 240 million to 230 million years ago.
The researchers were aware of a partial gorgonopsian skull from the Karoo Basin dating back to the Triassic period of the Indian period (251.9 million to 251.2 million years ago). Other researchers have rejected that skull, believing it to have been misidentified or dated incorrectly. But a new investigation revealed that it was “definitely gorgonopsian,” possibly of the genus pionosaurusAnd the said Kammerer, lead author Julien Benoit (Opens in a new tab)is a senior research fellow in paleontology at the Institute for Evolutionary Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.
Next, the duo analyzed two additional samples, also likely members of the pionosaurusfrom the Karoo Basin. Of the three gorgonopsian specimens, two are from sites straddling the Permo-Triassic boundary, and the third is from an Early Triassic.
maybe pionosaurus It survived mass extinction due to its small size, abundance, and flexible diet. The fox-sized carnivore—which had a narrow, long snout full of teeth—was one of the smallest gorgonopsians ever known. Small, generalist predators are better adapted to changing ecosystems than large, specialized predators, Kammerer said, and are therefore more likely to be overwhelmed by catastrophic events. “So if there were any Gorgongosians that we expect might have lived in the Triassic period, it would be it pionosaurus,” He said.
After the mass extinction, the biodiversity of the Karoo Basin was shattered, and a herbivore called the Listrosauruswhich lived during parts of the Permian and Triassic periods, rose in great numbers,” so, pionosaurus Most likely he didn’t run out of prey,” Benoit told Live Science in an email.
Research is ongoing, the team said, and “further scrutiny of these sites is necessary”. But the data suggests that gorgonopsians survived in the early part of the Triassic period, surprisingly as much as a tyrannosaurus survived the asteroid that hit Earth, the scientists said in their conference abstract.
However, the Triassic gorgonopsians were rare and single-sex, so this walking dead “should be considered a victim of the mass extinction at the end of the Permian,” the researchers said.
#Feral #Gorgons #Survived #Mass #Extinction #Walking #Dead