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When the Invasion of Land FailedThe Legacy of the Devonian Extinctions$
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George McGhee,

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780231160575

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231160575.001.0001

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The First Catastrophe and Retreat

The First Catastrophe and Retreat

(p.99) Chapter 4 The First Catastrophe and Retreat
When the Invasion of Land Failed

George R. McGhee

Columbia University Press

This chapter describes the End-Frasnian Catastrophe. In the end of Frasnian period, the vertebrates and arthropods on land began to die in greater numbers. Reproduction rates in the living fell, and fewer and fewer young vertebrates and arthropods were born into terrestrial habitats. In the rivers and estuaries, the elpistostegalian tetrapodomorph fishes, close relatives to the tetrapods, also perished. Three entire clades of the great armored fishes, the Placodermi died: the Acanthothoraci, the Rhenanida, and the Petalichthyida. Also, roughly 5,000,000 square kilometers of reefs had died. The areal extent of reefs on Earth shrank by a factor of 5000 at the end-Frasnian extinction. Until now, the causes of these extinctions are unclear. Leading theories include changes in sea level and ocean anoxia, possibly triggered by global cooling or oceanic volcanism.

Keywords:   End-Frasnian Catastrophe, Frasnian period, vertebrates, arthropods, fishes, tetrapods, Acanthothoraci, Rhenanida, Petalichthyida

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