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Data: 'Global plate boundary evolution and kinematics since the late Paleozoic'; Map: Lazaro Gamio / Axios

The breakup of supercontinents over the last 443 million years is responsible for the richness of global marine life, researchers show in a new study. In fact, a "significant component" of marine animal diversity is due to the creation and then separation of just one supercontinent – Pangaea - more than 175 million years ago.

What it tells us: Biologists have wondered for decades why the animal world is so diverse across the planet. They began to hypothesize in the 1970s that plate tectonics causing shifts in the continental crust were probably responsible for the global dispersal of species. But, at the time, they had no way to prove that biodiversity grew when supercontinents split apart.

How they cracked the case: Researchers used global marine fossil data and matched it up against continental configurations and reconstructed paleographic records. As supercontinents split apart, the fossil record shows a much greater richness among various forms of marine life.

  • Marine life = bivalves like clams, trilobites — some of the earliest animals with an exoskeleton, extinct marine mollusks known as ammonoids, primitive nautilus and other invertebrate animals

How it works: Animals evolve under pressure, especially from their environment. When a supercontinent breaks up, marine animals connected to each land mass are carried to other parts of the world like passengers on a ship. Species adapt in a multitude of ways to their new environment, contributing to diversity.

Go deeper

CDC to cut guidance on quarantine period for coronavirus exposure

A health care worker oversees cars as people arrive to get tested for coronavirus at a testing site in Arlington, Virginia, on Tuesday. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

The CDC will soon shorten its guidance for quarantine periods following exposure to COVID-19, AP reported Tuesday and Axios can confirm.

Why it matters: Quarantine helps prevent the spread of the coronavirus, which can occur before a person knows they're sick or if they're infected without feeling any symptoms. The current recommended period to stay home if exposed to the virus is 14 days. The CDC plans to amend this to 10 days or seven with a negative test, an official told Axios.

  • The CDC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
1 hour ago - Health

CDC panel: COVID vaccines should go to health workers, long-term care residents first

Hospital staff work in the COVID-19 intensive care unit in Houston. Photo: Go Nakamura via Getty

Health-care workers and nursing home residents should be at the front of the line to get coronavirus vaccines in the United States once they’re cleared and available for public use, an independent CDC panel recommended in a 13-1 emergency vote on Tuesday, per CNBC.

Why it matters: Recent developments in COVID-19 vaccines have accelerated the timeline for distribution as vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna undergo the federal approval process. States are preparing to begin distributing as soon as two weeks from now.

Obama: Broad slogans like "defund the police" lose people

Snapchat.

Former President Barack Obama told Peter Hamby on the Snapchat original political show "Good Luck America" that "snappy" slogans such as "defund the police" can alienate people, making the statements less effective than intended.

What he's saying: "You lost a big audience the minute you say it, which makes it a lot less likely that you're actually going to get the changes you want done," Obama told Hamby in an interview that will air Wednesday morning at 6 a.m. EST on Snapchat.