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The Rise of Oxygen over the Past 205 Million Years and the Evolution of Large Placental Mammals

Science  30 Sep 2005:
Vol. 309, Issue 5744, pp. 2202-2204
DOI: 10.1126/science.1116047

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Abstract

On the basis of a carbon isotopic record of both marine carbonates and organic matter from the Triassic-Jurassic boundary to the present, we modeled oxygen concentrations over the past 205 million years. Our analysis indicates that atmospheric oxygen approximately doubled over this period, with relatively rapid increases in the early Jurassic and the Eocene. We suggest that the overall increase in oxygen, mediated by the formation of passive continental margins along the Atlantic Ocean during the opening phase of the current Wilson cycle, was a critical factor in the evolution, radiation, and subsequent increase in average size of placental mammals.

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