The cause of late Cenozoic mass extinction in the western Atlantic: insights from sclerochronology

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Johnson, Andrew L. A., Valentine, Annemarie, Leng, Melanie J., Surge, Donna and Williams, Mark 2014. The cause of late Cenozoic mass extinction in the western Atlantic: insights from sclerochronology. The Palaeontological Association.
AuthorsJohnson, Andrew L. A., Valentine, Annemarie, Leng, Melanie J., Surge, Donna and Williams, Mark
Abstract

Heavy 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.

KeywordsExtinction; Palaeoclimate; Palaeoproductivity; Sclerochronology
Year2014
PublisherThe Palaeontological Association
Web address (URL)http://hdl.handle.net/10545/620654
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/
hdl:10545/620654
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Publication datesDec 2014
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Deposited24 Oct 2016, 13:52
ContributorsUniversity of Derby
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