Published: Tuesday 15 August 1995

Ancient plants may have been responsible for the disappearance of a number of sea animals which became extinct more than 360 million years ago, say University of Cincinnati (US) researchers Thomas Algeo and his colleagues. The chain of reasoning goes like this:'at that point of time, land plants were perfecting their knack of growing tall by developing root systems. As these conquerors marched across the land, obliterating other plants, they caused erosion, sending extra nutrients rushing towards the sea. This facilitated the blooming of algal population, which could have removed oxygen from sea water - thus spelling doom for sea creatures.

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