'Dinosaur-killing' asteroid helped establish reef fish community 65M years ago
A new study has revealed that the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaur population 65 million years ago may have helped establish the modern reef fish communities.
Samantha Price at the University of California, Davis, and her colleagues found that out of two peaks of reef colonisation by acanthomorphs, one began 25 million years before the mass extinction, marking the end of the Cretaceous, and the second peak of colonisation began right after that cataclysmic event.
The study also found that the earliest acanthomorphs to arrive on the reefs occupied very different ecological niches from one another and later arrivals filled in the gaps, ultimately creating the marine biodiversity hotspots we know today.
Price said that before the mid-Cretaceous, the early antecedents of the fish species we associate with reefs today like wrasse, parrotfish, clownfish, were unlikely to be living on reefs.
According to the researchers, the asteroid impact killed off these mollusc-based reefs, triggering the return of coral reefs and perhaps enabling the second pulse of acanthomorph colonisation.
(Posted on 04-04-2014)