Earth froze twice between 720 million and 635 million years ago, like a snowball. Recent research shows that life persisted in the freezing planet.
According to fossils, habitable marine ecosystems were more widespread than previously thought. Seaweed fossils found in Hubei Province’s black shale supported the findings.
According to Nature Geoscience, the two worldwide Snowball Earth occurrences known as the Sturtian and Marinoan ice ages during the Cryogenian Period between 720–635 million years ago helped evolve the Earth-life system.
Earth formed approximately 4.5 billion years ago
The findings support the concept that it was more of a “Slushball Earth” where basic multicellular creatures survived in mid-latitudes previously assumed to be frozen solid. The Cryogenian epoch reshaped the maritime landscape, and creatures likely appeared. The climate event may affect the ecosystem.
“The fundamental conclusion of our study is that open-water, ice-free conditions prevailed in mid-latitude marine regions during the dying period of the Marinoan Ice Age,” said China University of Geosciences geobiologist and article lead author Huyue Song. He said that larger livable waters explain how multicellular seaweed thrived.
Earth began 4.5 billion years ago. Single-celled creatures appeared in the planet’s first billion years. Multicellular creatures appeared perhaps 2 billion years later. Nevertheless, warmer circumstances returned following the Cryogenian, allowing life forms to rapidly expand approximately 540 million years ago.
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According to research co-author Shuhai Xiao, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels plunged right before these occurrences, forcing the polar ice caps to expand and reflect more solar radiation back to space. Snowball Earth ensued.
Red, green, and fungal survived “Snowball Earth” before the Cryogenian. Humans survived the Cryogenian freeze, which lasted 10,000 years.