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Fire has once caused tragedy of destruction on the ground, this great disaster can still happen again

The terrible wildfire in Australia did not cause much human damage and has few economic consequences, but the biodiversity of the Australian continent in particular and the entire Earth’s ecosystem in general will be severely affected. strong blow. Scientists have begun to issue a warning that worries us: animals and plants are facing a new extinction disaster.

The history recorded by Mother Earth does not lie: The Earth has at least once witnessed the disaster of extinction due to forest fires, which is when the meteorite was destined to fall to Earth, causing the Earth to sink in flames. .

First, let’s talk about the biodiversity in Australia

The Australian continent is one of the few “megadiverse” countries, that is, contains most of the species found on Earth and has a large number of endemic species found only in the region. It is unclear after the catastrophic fire, the number 17 has decreased, as the burning areas in Australia are located in places where many animals are concentrated.

Mammals and birds (with legs to run and wings to fly) that face the devastating fire are now in danger of extinction, and the situation is even worse for invertebrates that are not able to. ability to escape. Sadly, it is the invertebrates that make up the biodiversity of a megadiverse country.

Fire has once caused tragedy of destruction on the ground this great disaster can still happen again | Explore

For example, the rainforests of Gondwana in New South Wales and Queensland are badly damaged by the fire. So far, the damage to the forests of the World Heritage list is not high enough to contain endemic insects and is known for its nudibranchs. The extinction process can also take a long time, not necessarily a fire that can instantly burn certain species.

Fire has caused genocide

Earth’s history has witnessed many times when fierce flames swept across continents, no “living” recorded these events, but the layers of sediment told us everything. They provide evidence that fire has led many species to extinction, and the fire has “single-handedly” changed life on Earth.

About 66 million years ago, the Cretaceous – Paleogen extinction event ended the throne of the dinosaurs, only birds escaped. This event wiped out 75% of all species on Earth.

Fire has once caused tragedy of destruction on the ground this great disaster can still happen again | Explore

Raptors can run fast but not fast enough to escape a hot flame.

Scientists agree that a 10 kilometer diameter meteorite crashed into Mexico and caused catastrophe. A similar event of nuclear winter swept everywhere – ash and dust blocked the sun for years, causing the global ecosystem to collapse.

Recent studies indicate that widespread forest fires are one of the main factors that cause life on the ground to fade. The giant meteorite causes hot ash to fly everywhere, fossils showing that most of the forest on the ground burns ashes, but science is still debating the detailed calculations related to this phenomenon.

Only species that survive the fire can survive

Fossils of edge species – especially reptiles, birds and mammals – show how powerful the fire that destroyed dinosaurs was. The nature of the pest and the escaped species have many similarities with the panicked creatures in the middle of the fire in Australia.

Species that have escaped extinction in the past are all resistant to heat and fire, such as amphibians or creatures capable of burying in the ground, in addition to those that are able to fly off the tops. fire.

Among the reptiles, crocodiles and freshwater turtles that can swim, lizards and snakes can bury themselves in the ground and escape death, but lizards and shallow snakes are severely affected.

Fire has once caused tragedy of destruction on the ground this great disaster can still happen again | Explore

These species survived the fire of millions of years ago.

Among the mammals, monotone animals (mammals that lay eggs instead of giving birth, such as platypuses; they only exist in Australia) survive, small mammals with size. the equivalent of rodents also burrowed into a deep cave to escape, but all the large mammals were extinct. Some birds escaped, but their dinosaur relatives all passed away in a frightening heat.

In fact, research shows that all terrestrial animals larger than domestic cats will die unless they can swim, bury themselves underground or fly. But even the three possibilities did not save many species from death: they only had a slightly higher chance of survival. For example, pterosaurs can fly, but they also exterminate with most birds at that time.

Recent research indicates that only perching birds that need forests to survive die when much of the Earth’s forest has been turned into ash. Those with wings surviving through the disaster are mostly birds that feed on the ground. It took millions of years for the perching bird to evolve so that today we can hear them sing.

Fire has once caused tragedy of destruction on the ground this great disaster can still happen again | Explore

The same bird but there are two fate.

It can be seen that the impact of the meteorite on Earth contributes only a part of “efforts” to the restructuring of terrestrial biodiversity, what happens after that, such as constant fire and grain winter. The new cause is the main cause of the extinction event.

What about the burning fire in the Southern Hemisphere?

Obviously, the cover of the fire was not equal to the fire storm of millions of years ago, but the long-term extinction effect still exists. The devastating hand of mankind has caused the Earth to lose half of its forest cover, and such massive fires – not long ago Africa and South America, are now taking place in Australia – will be further makes things go bad.

We can see the threats to biodiversity in Australia, including pollution from humans, invasive species and climate change. History shows that large fires were also a cause of mass extinctions; Hot flames can affect a variety of creatures, no matter how fast they run and how high they fly.

Fire has once caused tragedy of destruction on the ground this great disaster can still happen again | Explore

History also tells us which species survived the brutal event, then suffered the long-term consequences of the fire.

It took millions of years, beyond the nuclear winter and a series of fire storms, to get the Earth’s rich biosphere. Then the new world order was established, everything was extremely different: the dinosaurs disappeared, clearing the way for mammals and birds to take the throne.

Based on posts posted on The Conversation of Professor of Evolutionary Biology Mike Lee.

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