The Dinosaurs were wiped out from the face of the Earth by a massive asteroid which struck the planet some 66 million years ago. It also facilitated the growth of flowering plants which was to replace the slow growing evergreen plants.
The asteroid which decimated the Dinosaurs turned out to become a boon for the flowering plants. It provided them with just that opportunity needed to replace the slow growing evergreens.
Benjamin Blonder, the lead author of the new study, in a news release said, “When you look at forests around the world today, you don’t see many forests dominated by evergreen flowering plants. Instead, they are dominated by deciduous species, plants that lose their leaves at some point during the year.”
The researchers examined about 1000 fossilized plants which were embedded in rocky layers also known as Hell Creek formation. In the final stages of the Cretaceous period, the region resembled a lowland floodplain which was cut back and forth by river channels. Applying biomechanical formulae to these fossils, researchers reconstructed the ecology of a diverse plant community which thrived during a 2.2 million-year period that covered the impact event.
Blonder suggests that mass extinction caused by a catastrophic event like a meteorite colliding with the planet will not essentially mean all species will become extinct or die. The theory of the survival of the fittest does not apply and it is more like a reset button. Some species had the ability to survive in those conditions.
The fast growing plants took the place of slow growing plants. The impact was beneficial for flowering plants and helped them to dominate the ecosystem. These plants were better adapted to take advantage of the changing conditions on the planet quickly.
The asteroid impact had not only killed the dinosaurs but also changed the ecosystem and ushered conditions which allowed deciduous forests to take advantage and take roots.
The study was published in the Journal PLOS Biology.