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Paleobotanical Section

Green, W. A. [1], Hickey, L. J. [1].

If a Forest Falls, Do the Trees Hear It? Eco-morphological Dynamics of the Cretaceous-Tertiary Boundary Event.

The extinctions that took place at the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary restructured animal populations to such an extent that we base major chronostratigraphic subdivisions on the faunas that dominated them. The plant fossil record, however, does not always show the same dynamics as the faunal record. In particular, our eco-morphological analysis of fossil leaf occurrences through the Mesozoic and Cenozoic eras, when binned by geological epoch, shows no morphological perturbation of plant ecosystems at the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary comparable to the changes associated with the rise of angiosperms, 50 million years earlier. This substantiates some of our standing assumptions about the selectivity of extinctions at the end of the Cretaceous, which may have eliminated taxa but do not seem to have restructured plant ecosystems significantly. It provides an example of ecosystem stability under environmental perturbation and highlights the influence of evolutionary innovation on evolutionary history.


1 - Yale University, Department of Geology and Geophysics, P. O. Box 208109, Yale Station, New Haven, Connecticut, 06520, U.S.A.

Keywords:
Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary event
Eco-morphology
Leaf fossils.

Presentation Type: Paper
Session: 42-2
Location: Maybird (Cliff Lodge)
Date: Wednesday, August 4th, 2004
Time: 8:15 AM
Abstract ID:892


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