June 10, 2023


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An ecosystem teeming with predators. None of us would like to be here

Scientists are trying to understand what made this possible in one ecosystem Many predators coexist. Their sizes ranged from 2 to 10 meters, and at least some of these organisms that occupy the top of the food chain had jaws filled with teeth and small heads set on long necks.

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The described area is referred to as the Baja Formation, and within it one can meet, among others, turtles, fish, ammonites, crabs, mollusks and sharks, although the ichthyosaurs were more terrifying, that is, reptiles somewhat resembling dolphins. There was also a place for living creatures reminiscent of modern crocodiles.

Of course, in the past, all that remains for us is to analyze fossils from millions of years ago. In this way, paleontologists can recreate the conditions prevailing at the time and understand the relationships between species that lived in such ecosystems.

The ecosystem operating within the ocean, beyond which the Baja Formation remained, was very diverse

The study authors took into account the size of each species, the structure of the jaws, and the arrangement of the teeth. Then they estimated which areas of the food chain these species might have occupied. As they explain, this food-food web is quantitatively reconstructed based on hypothesized interactions between producers, consumers, and predators. As it turns out, there were more trophic levels in the ocean 130 million years ago, which made food chains longer than they are today.

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Why did this contribute to the increased abundance of predatory species? It was about the greater complexity of the ecosystem, which allowed more space for relationships between species. However, it is not clear whether this state also ensured greater stability of the ecosystem. Previous research has indicated that the basis of marine ecosystems has remained stable for hundreds of millions of years, so the new findings could provide some room for discussion.

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A participant in the ancient marine life, with whom we can no longer meet, was ammonites, that is, cephalopods that lived in thick shells. Their sizes were particularly impressive, ranging from a few centimeters to three metres. More than 100 different species of ammonites are found in the Baja Formation. As for the other animals, the plesiosaurs of the genus undoubtedly attracted attention sachikasurwhich was up to ten meters long. Without the high enough availability of potential victims, many hunters would not have been able to survive. It seems that they inhabited the waters of the ancient ocean for a long time.