CIE Spotlight: Significant pre-mass extinction animal body-size changes: Evidences from the Permian-Triassic boundary brachiopod faunas of South China

Guang S.

Guang S.

Title: Significant pre-mass extinction animal body-size changes: Evidences from the Permian-Triassic boundary brachiopod faunas of South China

Authors: Zhang, Yang; Shi, G. R.; He, Wei-hong; Wu, Hui-ting; Lei, Yong; Zhang, Ke-xin; Du, Cheng-chen; Yang, Ting-lu; Yue, Ming-liang; Xiao, Yi-fan

Source: PALAEOGEOGRAPHY PALAEOCLIMATOLOGY PALAEOECOLOGY, 448 85-95, APR 15 2016

Brief summary of the paper: This paper has undertaken a quantitative and statistical analysis of brachiopod body-size changes through the marine Permian–Triassic boundary section at Zhongzhai, Guizhou Province, South China, and found that (1) pre-mass extinction dwarfing is evident for at least the rugosochonetid species chosen for this study; (2) Tethyochonetes species reduced their size earlier than that in the Neochonetes species; and (3) no significant size reduction occurred in the newly evolved species of these two genera.

Inter-species competition for resources between Neochonetes species and Tethyochonetes species and the reduction of food supply in the upper part of the uppermost Permian is here proposed to explain these observed stratigraphic patterns of brachiopod body-size changes throughout the Zhongzhai section.

In the case of the newly evolved species showing no significant body-size change, morphological innovations (adaptations) in the process of speciation are considered to have significantly enhanced these newly evolved species’ flexibility and survival in coping with degrading environmental conditions.