How height turned to might during prehistoric organisms' evolution
Researchers have suggested that height may have offered a distinct advantage to the earliest forms of multicellular life.
University of Toronto Mississauga professor Marc Laflamme, an assistant professor with the Department of Chemical and Physical Sciences, and his colleagues at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Node of NASA's Astrobiology Institute used a technique known as canopy flow modeling to reconstruct ocean currents operating in the deep seas some 580 million years ago.
The three-dimensional modeling helped to illustrate how dense communities of bacteria and multicellular organisms competed for nutrients in Pre-Cambrian seas.
According to the study, primitive multicellular organisms known as Ediacara biota took on larger sizes in order to access nutrient-rich currents occurring above the seabed.
These enigmatic leaf-shaped life-forms grew up to a metre in height and are thought to be among the earliest assortment of large, multicellular life.
Laflamme and his colleagues suggest large Ediacara were able to absorb nutrients in higher quantities, which in turn helped to fuel the high energy costs associated with increased size.
The study also suggests that large Ediacara altered the flow of surrounding ocean currents, thus promoting further growth.
The study has been published in the science journal Current Biology.
(Posted on 25-01-2014)