Consequences of the cretaceous/paleogene mass extinction for marine ecosystems

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One of the greatest mass extinctions in Earth's history occurred at the end of the Cretaceous era, sixty-five million years (Myr) ago. Considerable evidence indicates that the impact of a large asteroid or comet was the ultimate cause of this extraordinary event. At the time of mass extinction, the organic flux to the deep sea collapsed, and production of calcium carbonate by marine plankton radically declined. These biogeochemical processes did not fully recover for a few million years. The drastic decline and long lag in final recovery of these processes are most simply explained as consequences of open-ocean ecosystem alteration by the mass extinction. If this explanation is correct, the extent and timing of marine biogeochemical recovery from the end-Cretaceous event was ultimately contingent on the extent and timing of open-ocean ecosystem recovery. The biogeochemical recovery may in turn have created new evolutionary opportunities for a diverse array of marine organisms. Copyright © 2005 by Annual Reviews. All rights reserved.

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Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics