By Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz
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Each of these three is further subdivided into periods that correspond to particular events that make up the “greatest hits” of the time of animals. The Paleozoic Era includes, in ascending order, oldest to youngest, Devonian, Mississippian, Pennsylvanian (which in Europe are combined into a single period named the Oxygen Through Time 41 Carboniferous because of all its coal deposits), and Permian. The Paleozoic is followed by the Mesozoic and starts with the Triassic, followed by the Jurassic, and ending with the Cretaceous.
It is only oxygen content that has been both a global phenomenon and a parameter undergoing swings wide enough to affect not only life but also the evolutionary history of life. This factor perhaps has been rivaled only by biotic interactions of competition and predation in producing the makeup of animal body plans and their changes through time. A TEST OF THE HYPOTHESIS The major hypothesis of this book is that changing atmospheric oxygen levels over the last 600 million years have caused significant evolutionary changes in animals.
A disadvantage is that these types of gills are tasty targets for predators and, if nipped off, the wounded organism, assuming it survives the attack, would probably die anyway from lack of oxygen. Gills only work if there is a thin barrier between the water and the animal’s blood and thus gills cannot be armored. Therefore, one common modification to this system is to place the gills within the body or build some kind of body armor over the delicate gills. Early mollusks used this trick, enclosing their gills (technically called ctenidia) with a space at the back of the body called a mantle cavity and then building a shell over the cavity and visceral mass.