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Early Tertiary radiation of marine molluscs and the long-term effects of the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction

  • Thor A. Hansen (a1)


The Cretaceous–Tertiary (K–T) extinction reduced the gamma diversity of molluscs on the U.S. Gulf Coast from over 500 species in the late Maastrichtian to a little over 100 species in the early Danian. Gamma (total) diversity increased in a series of steps that generally tracked temperature, to a high of around 400 species in the late Middle Eocene, at which time diversity declined in the Late Eocene–Oligocene extinctions. The molluscan radiation occurred in at least two distinct phases: 1) an Initial Radiation Phase in which certain families underwent unusually high speciation, apparently filling ecological niches vacated by the extinction, followed by extinction of many of the species in these families in the late Danian; and, 2) a Secondary Radiation Phase where gamma diversity gradually increased and new genera gradually appeared. The fact that the gamma diversity of molluscs did not reach pre-extinction levels before the next extinction in the Late Eocene suggests that molluscan faunas may spend much of their evolutionary time recovering from these extinctions.



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Early Tertiary radiation of marine molluscs and the long-term effects of the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction

  • Thor A. Hansen (a1)


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