Abstract

The Wavelet Transform was used to analyze the evolutionary record of planktic foraminifera to distinguish specific structure not previously resolvable. Both the speciation and extinction wavelets are characterized by a major singularity at the Cretaceous-Tertiary (K-T) boundary, when there was a total breakdown in the interconnectedness of ecosystems related to sharply reduced diversity following the Chicxulub impact event. The speciation wavelet is also characterized by an interval consisting of a hierarchical array of five orders of bifurcation, which are related to repeated iterative radiation of species from the Albian to Maastrichtian. These planktic foraminiferal extinction patterns were related to quasi-periodic orogenic cycles of the Cretaceous that, in turn, produced episodic mantle CO2-degassing, oceanic volcanism and anoxia, and sea level fluctutations. We hypothesize that the hierarchical structure observed is a reflection of this process in an otherwise stochastic system.

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