December, 2022

202201Dec6:00 PM7:00 PMReefs, Revolutions & Redox at the Dawn of Animal Life (Zoom Webinar)6:00 PM - 7:00 PM AEDT Online Organizer: The Royal Society of Victoria Region:OnlineTopic:History,MarineCost:$Confidence:Medium


Earth’s oceans have hosted the evolution of complex life throughout much of the planet’s history. However, the link between evolving marine organisms and their physical habitats is often not well understood, especially on the early Earth. The “Cambrian explosion” of animal life around 540 million years ago has traditionally defined the boundary between the strange environments of the early Earth and the recognisable animal ecosystems of our current Era.

More recently, the evolution of animals and other complex life has been understood to have originated much earlier, in the preceding Neoproterozoic Era (~1000-540 million years ago). From enigmatic reef systems to sandy seabeds rich with jellyfish-like ‘Ediacaran biota’; these Neoproterozoic marine environments were unusual but diverse habitats. Sedimentary rocks which were deposited in ocean basins during and after this ‘dawn of animal life’ record the complex links between ancient environments, climate, seawater conditions and biological evolution. In particular, the oxygenation of Earth’s surface during this time had profound effects on almost every aspect of biogeochemical cycling on Earth and is thought to play a major role in shaping the biosphere of our modern world.

Reefs, Revolutions & Redox at the Dawn of Animal Life (Zoom Webinar) image
However, the timing of the oxygenation of Earth’s surface environments and its link to biological evolution remains contentious. This talk will chart the tumultuous history of reefs and redox (from “oxygen reduction,” indicating a biochemical reaction involving changes to the oxidation states of organisms and their supporting substrates) through this time, presenting a series of studies showcasing exciting new perspectives on marine environmental conditions and their link to ecosystem complexity. In particular, a suite of well-preserved marine carbonates has revealed new details about oxygenation of the Earth’s oceans in the Neoproterozoic and Palaeozoic that challenge the traditional view of a unidirectional rise of oxygen through Earth’s history. This perspective abandons the oceans, and instead implicates the importance of the greening of the continents around 400 million years ago, suggesting that land plants are the true engineers of our modern, oxygen-rich planet.


Thursday, December 1 - 6:00pm 2022 - Thursday, December 1 - 7:00pm 2022 AEDT




The Royal Society of Victoria

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