Terrestrialization in the Late Devonian: a palaeoecological overview of the Red Hill site, Pennsylvania, USA
Walter L. Cressler, III, Edward B. Daeschler, Rudy Slingerland, Daniel A. Peterson, 2010. "Terrestrialization in the Late Devonian: a palaeoecological overview of the Red Hill site, Pennsylvania, USA", The Terrestrialization Process: Modelling Complex Interactions at the Biosphere–Geosphere Interface, M. Vecoli, G. Clément, B. Meyer-Berthaud
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Alluvial floodplains were a critical setting during the Late Devonian for the evolution of terrestriality among plants, invertebrate and vertebrates. The Red Hill site in Pennsylvania, US, provides a range of information about the physical and biotic setting of a floodplain ecosystem along the southern margin of the Euramerican landmass during the late Famennian age. An avulsion model for floodplain sedimentation is favoured in which a variety of inter-channel depositional settings formed a wide range of aquatic and terrestrial habitats. The Red Hill flora demonstrates ecological partitioning of the floodplain landscape at a high taxonomic level. In addition to progymnosperm forests, lycopsid wetlands and zygopterid fern glades, the flora includes patches of early spermatophytes occupying sites disturbed by fires. The Red Hill fauna illustrates the development of a diverse penecontemporaneous community including terrestrial invertebrates and a wide range of vertebrates that were living within aquatic habitats. Among the vertebrates are several limbed tetrapodomorphs that inhabited the burgeoning shallow water habitats on the floodplain.
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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.