Huge mountain chains associated with major evolutionary changes.

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In summary, this paper discusses the hypothesis that the height of mountains and the evolution of life on Earth may be linked. The authors suggest that the evolution of new species may be sped up due to the removal of CO2 from the atmosphere by the mountains. While the paper is interesting, it is worth noting that there are other hypotheses that need to be considered before concluding that mountains and new species evolution are linked.
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jim mcnamara
TL;DR Summary
Two huge mountain chains associated with major evolutionary changes: the first between 2,000 and 1,800 million years ago and the second between 650 and 500 mya. The mountain ranges were much larger than the Himalayas.
Ziyi Zhu et al, The temporal distribution of Earth's supermountains and their potential link to the rise of atmospheric oxygen and biological evolution, Earth and Planetary Science Letters (2022).

DOI: 10.1016/j.epsl.2022.117391

"There's nothing like these two supermountains today. It's not just their height—if you can imagine the 2,400 km long Himalayas repeated three or four times you get an idea of the scale,"

This is an interesting idea. The geochemistry seems solid, but the association with major evolutionary changes is weaker. The thinking behind this is based on:
Geographic isolation is a major component of evolution (i.e., speciation) - Th Dobznhansky

Stephen Gould and others brought in the ideas that gave us this model:
Major variants of speciation: allopatric, peripatric, parapatric, and sympatric. Speciation is how a new kind of plant or animal species is created.
Peripatric and allopatric involve physical and/or geographic isolation. This paper is using that kind of approach.

There are examples of catastrophic global environmental changes that were very fast, sympatric speciation. An extreme example is
subsequent explosion of small mammal species.
loss of larger species like dinsaurs

Lots of species went extinct very quickly, opening ecological niches that surviving species could exploit and diversify into. On the other hand, time scales for mountain range development are orders of magnitude "slower" than the Chicxulub event.

All of this is okay. But it is worth noting that some geological speciation arguments need to be viewed as one answer of many possible.
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The weathering of the new mountains also removes CO2 from the atmosphere. Climate changes can also affect the direction of evolution (snowball Earth would be an extreme example).
This is also not a fast process.
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FWIW - slow is not always true.

Open access:
Evidence for a mouse origin of the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant
Changshuo Weiab Ke-Jia Shanab Weiguang Wangab ShuyaZhangab Qing Huana
Wenfeng Qian

Evolutionary changes may also be "spurts". The Omicron paper above makes a case for very rapid evolutionary changes during the possible zoonotic transformation Human->mouse->Human. Paper claims ~6 times faster genetic change than is documented in the rest of the genetic tree assemblage of the Covid virus.

And. Be a little cautious about the paper, there are other hypotheses like 'Covid spent a long time in a single immunocompromised patient, constantly changing' - who then spread the mutated virus to others.

The mouse idea is fun to think about. I've been told that 40% of all living mammals are mice and rats. So how could you ever find the problem mouse population? It would take an awful lot of cheese to track down all of them :smile:
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jim mcnamara said:
FWIW - slow is not always true.
Sorry. I was referring to climatic changes due to mountain weathering.
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While reading the cited papers, I found this corollary to this thread. Early planktonic life left graphite deposits on ocean floors providing added lubricant required by plate tectonics. Life led to taller mountains that in turn provided impetus to evolution.

Related to Huge mountain chains associated with major evolutionary changes.

1. What are the main factors that contribute to the formation of huge mountain chains?

The formation of huge mountain chains is primarily caused by tectonic plate movement, where two or more plates collide or converge, resulting in the upward movement of the Earth's crust. Other factors such as volcanic activity and erosion also play a role in shaping these mountain chains.

2. How do major evolutionary changes relate to the presence of huge mountain chains?

Huge mountain chains can act as physical barriers, separating different populations of species and leading to isolation and speciation. This can result in major evolutionary changes as different species adapt to their unique environments.

3. Are there any specific examples of huge mountain chains and their impact on evolution?

One notable example is the Himalayas, which have been a significant barrier for species in Asia, leading to the evolution of distinct species in different regions. The Andes Mountains have also played a role in the evolution of species in South America, such as the diverse flora and fauna found in the Amazon rainforest.

4. How long does it take for major evolutionary changes to occur in response to the formation of huge mountain chains?

The time frame for major evolutionary changes to occur in response to the formation of huge mountain chains can vary greatly. It can take millions of years for new species to evolve, while smaller changes such as genetic adaptations can occur over shorter periods of time.

5. Can the presence of huge mountain chains also lead to extinction events?

Yes, the formation of huge mountain chains can also lead to extinction events, as species may struggle to adapt to the new environment or face competition from other species. The movement of tectonic plates can also cause changes in climate and sea levels, which can have a significant impact on species survival.