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Lichens thrived, diversified after the dinosaurs died out

Lichens thrived, diversified after the dinosaurs died out

Science
June 28 (UPI) -- The dinosaurs were the most famous victim of the asteroid that struck Earth some 66 million years ago, but the mass extinction event also killed off a variety of plants and animals. According to a new study, the loss of plant life created space for lichens to diversify and thrive. Lichens are composite organisms formed by symbiotic relationships between algae or cyanobacteria and different fungi species. "We thought that lichens would be affected negatively, but in the three groups we looked at, they seized the chance and diversified rapidly," Jen-Pang Huang, a former postdoctoral researcher at the Field Museum in Chicago, said in a news release. "Some lichens grow sophisticated 3D structures like plant leaves, and these ones filled the niches of plants that died out." T...