Terrestrialization: the early emergence of the concept
Philippe Janvier, 2010. "Terrestrialization: the early emergence of the concept", The Terrestrialization Process: Modelling Complex Interactions at the Biosphere–Geosphere Interface, M. Vecoli, G. Clément, B. Meyer-Berthaud
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The transition from water to land is perhaps the most dramatic event in the history of life after the rise of photosynthesis, sexuality and predation. During the late Neoproterozoic and the early Palaeozoic, some green plants, fungi and animals happened to overcome the constraints that linked them to the primeval aquatic environment of life, became progressively adapted to the terrestrial, aerobic environment and finally contributed to its change through time. We do not know how many taxa initially survived this trial, but we have some indication of the result in extant life: a threefold world of pluricellular terrestrial organisms, all depending on each other to various degrees and surrounded by a cryptic world of bacteria and unicellular eukaryotes. Fossils provide us with acceptable information about the evolutionary history of only two of these worlds: embryophytes and bilateralian animals. The molecules of their living representatives can only begin to tell us how they gained the complexity that allowed them to achieve this remarkable adaptation to life on land and in air.
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The Terrestrialization Process: Modelling Complex Interactions at the Biosphere–Geosphere Interface
The invasion of the land by plants (‘terrestrialization’) was one of the most significant evolutionary events in the history of life on Earth, and correlates in time with periods of major palaeoenvironmental perturbations. The development of a vegetation cover on the previously barren land surfaces impacted on the global biogeochemical cycles and the geological processes of erosion and sediment transport. The terrestrialization of plants preceded the rise of major new groups of animals, such as insects and tetrapods, the latter numbering some 24 000 living species, including ourselves. Early land-plant evolution also correlates with the most spectacular decline of atmospheric CO2 concentration of Phanerozoic times and with the onset of a protracted period of glacial conditions on Earth. This book includes a selection of papers covering different aspects of the terrestrialization, from palaeobotany to vertebrate palaeontology and geochemistry, promoting a multidisciplinary approach to the understanding of the co-evolution of life and its environments during Early to Mid-Palaeozoic times.