Evolution and extinction of Maastrictian (Late Cretaceous) cephalopods from the López de Bertodano Formation, Seymour Island, Antarctica
One of the most expanded records to contain the final fortunes of ammonoid cephalopods is within the López de Bertodano Formation of Seymour Island, James Ross Basin, Antarctica. Located at ~ 65° South now, and during the Cretaceous, this sequence is the highest southern latitude onshore outcrop containing the Cretaceous-Paleogene (K–Pg) transition. We present comprehensive new biostratigraphic range data for 14 ammonite and one nautiloid species based on the collection of > 700 macrofossils from high-resolution sampling of parallel sedimentary sections, dated Maastrichtian to earliest Danian in age, across southern Seymour Island. We find evidence for only a single, abrupt pulse of cephalopod extinction at the end of the Cretaceous when the final seven ammonite species disappeared, consistent with most evidence globally. In the lead up to the K–Pg extinction in the James Ross Basin, starting during the Campanian, ammonite diversity decreased overall, but the number of endemic taxa belonging to the family Kossmaticeratidae actually increased. This pattern continued into the Maastrichtian and may be facies controlled, linked to changes in sea level and seawater temperature. During the early Maastrichtian, ammonite diversity dropped significantly with only two species recorded from the basal López de Bertodano Formation on Seymour Island. The subsequent diversification of endemic taxa and reappearance of long-ranging, widespread species into the basin resulted in an increase in ammonite diversity and abundance during the mid-Maastrichtian. This was coincident with an apparent period of warming temperatures and sea level rise interpreted from palynology and sedimentology, perhaps reflecting a high latitude expression of the Mid-Maastrichtian Event. Late Maastrichtian diversity levels remained stable despite reported climatic and environmental variation. Ammonite diversity patterns during the Maastrichtian parallel those of microfossil species such as nannofossil and planktonic foraminifera, suggesting that dynamic climatic and environmental changes affected many planktonic and nektonic organisms during the latest Cretaceous. However, we suggest that these perturbations had a minimal effect on overall diversity prior to the catastrophic extinction event at the K–Pg boundary.
Authors: Witts, James D., Bowman, Vanessa C., Wignall, Paul B., Crame, J. Alistair, Francis, Jane E., Newton, Robert J.