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Causes of the Cambrian Explosion.

Smith, M.P. and Harper, D.A.T. (2013) 'Causes of the Cambrian Explosion.', Science., 341 (6152). pp. 1355-1356.


In the last decade, at least thirty individual hypotheses have been invoked to explain the Cambrian Explosion, ranging from starbursts in the Milky Way to intrinsic genomic reorganization and developmental patterning. It has been noted (1) that recent hypotheses fall into three categories: a) developmental/genetic, b) ecologic and c) abiotic environmental, with geochemical hypotheses forming an abundant and distinctive subset of the last. With a few notable exceptions, a significant majority of these hypotheses have been posited as stand-alone processes that constituted the principal causal modes of the Explosion. An additional challenge relates to the precise definition of the Explosion – is it the first appearance of animal groups, the diversification event, the emergence of marine ecosystems with ‘modern’ trophic structures, or all of these?

Item Type:Article
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Publisher statement:This is the author’s version of the work. It is posted here by permission of the AAAS for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Science, 341, 2013, 10.1126/science.1239450
Date accepted:No date available
Date deposited:19 September 2013
Date of first online publication:September 2013
Date first made open access:No date available

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