Paleontologist: About 2.8 million years ago, many species that lived near the ocean floor suffered substantial population declines. These declines coincided with the onset of an ice age. The notion that cold killed those bottom-dwelling creatures outright is misguided, however; temperatures near the ocean floor would have changed very little. Nevertheless, the cold probably did cause the population declines, though indirectly. Many bottom-dwellers depended for food on plankton, small organisms that lived close to the surface and sank to the bottom when they died. Most probably, the plankton suffered a severe population decline as a result of sharply lower temperatures at the surface, depriving many bottom-dwellers of food.In the paleontologist's reasoning, the two portions in boldface play which of the following roles?
【选项】The first is an explanation challenged by the paleontologist; the second is an explanation proposed by the paleontologist.