The cause of late Cenozoic mass extinction in the western Atlantic: insights from sclerochronology
AffiliationUniversity of Derby
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AbstractHeavy late Cenozoic extinction amongst marine molluscs in the western Atlantic has traditionally been interpreted as a consequence of climatic deterioration. However, the pattern of extinction was not the same in the eastern Atlantic, where conditions also became colder. A fall in primary productivity, suggested by a decline in phosphate deposition, may be the real explanation for western Atlantic extinctions. Evidence in support comes from isotopic- and increment-based (sclerochronological) indications of growth rate in Pliocene scallops. A western Atlantic genus that has survived to the present (Placopecten) had the same moderate growth rate in the Pliocene as now, while two genera that became extinct (Carolinapecten and Chesapecten) had growth rates as fast as any known amongst living scallops. Such rapid growth implies abundant food. Selective extinction of a fast-growing species has also been documented amongst Pliocene oysters in the Caribbean region and attributed to a decline in primary productivity. The likely cause of this is the development of the Central American Isthmus and the consequent reorganization of oceanic circulation in the Gulf of Mexico and wider North Atlantic.
CitationJohnson ALA, Valentine A, Leng MJ, Surge D & Williams M (2014) The cause of late Cenozoic mass extinction in the western Atlantic: insights from sclerochronology. 58th Annual Meeting of the Palaeontological Association (University of Leeds, 16-19 December 2014). Programme, abstracts and AGM papers, 31.
PublisherThe Palaeontological Association
TypeMeetings and Proceedings
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