The Ordovician radiation is among the major bioevents in earth history that have drawn great attention from geologists all over the world, and there have been hundreds of publications treating various aspects of this radiation. The study of the event involves a broad spectrum of research fields and concerns many scientific questions. Many opinions and hypotheses have been proposed on the triggering and controlling factors of the radiation. Herein the authors critically review the study of the Ordovician radiation and dissect four principal aspects by synthesizing the studies over the past years: (1) relationships of the radiation to fossil clades, ecotypes, and environments, such as water depth, latitude, and climate; (2) the ecological structure and food webs of Ordovician marine organisms; (3) fossil records and true biodiversities; and (4) likely triggering and controlling factors of the Ordovician radiation. The authors also recommend approaches to furthering studies of these aspects.
This work was supported by Chinese Academy of Sciences (Grant No. KZCX2-YW-122), Ministry of Science and Technology (Grant Nos. 2006CB806402, 2006FY120300-4) and National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 40532009).