Ammonites on the Brink of Extinction: Diversity, Abundance, and Ecology of the Order Ammonoidea at the Cretaceous/Paleogene (K/Pg) Boundary

  • Neil H. Landman
  • Stijn Goolaerts
  • John W.M. Jagt
  • Elena A. Jagt-Yazykova
  • Marcin Machalski


We examined the stratigraphic distribution of ammonites at a total of 29 sites around the world in the last 0.5 myr of the Maastrichtian. We demarcated this interval using biostratigraphy, magnetostratigraphy, cyclostratigraphy, and data on fossil occurrences in relation to the K/Pg boundary in sections without any facies change between the highest ammonites and the K/Pg boundary. The ammonites at this time represent all four Mesozoic suborders comprising six superfamilies, 31 (sub)genera, and 57 species. The distribution of ammonites is dependent on the environmental setting. Recent data suggest that ammonites persisted to the boundary and some species may have survived for several tens of thousands of years into the Paleogene. The best explanation for ammonite extinction is a brief episode of ocean acidification immediately following the Chixculub impact, which caused the decimation of the calcareous plankton including the planktic post-hatching stages of ammonites. The geographic distribution of ammonites may also have played a role in the events with more broadly distributed genera being more resistant to extinction.


Cretaceous/Paleogene boundary Maastrichtian Extinction Paleoecology 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Neil H. Landman
    • 1
  • Stijn Goolaerts
    • 2
  • John W.M. Jagt
    • 3
  • Elena A. Jagt-Yazykova
    • 4
    • 5
  • Marcin Machalski
    • 6
  1. 1.Division of Paleontology (Invertebrates)American Museum of Natural History, New YorkNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Department of Paleontology, OD Earth & History of LifeRoyal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (IRSNB-KBIN)BrusselsBelgium
  3. 3.Natuurhistorisch Museum MaastrichtMaastrichtThe Netherlands
  4. 4.Zakład PaleobiologiiUniwersytet OpolskiOpolePoland
  5. 5.St. Petersburg State University (SPbGU)St. PetersburgRussia
  6. 6.Instytut PaleobiologiiPolska Akademia NaukWarsawPoland

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