Abstract

We test the hypothesis that escalated species (e.g., those with antipredatory adaptations such as heavy armor) are more vulnerable to extinctions caused by changes in climate. If this hypothesis is valid, recovery faunas after climate-related extinctions should include significantly fewer species with escalated shell characteristics, and escalated species should undergo greater rates of extinction than nonescalated species. This hypothesis is tested for the Cretaceous-Paleocene, Eocene-Oligocene, middle Miocene, and Pliocene-Pleistocene mass extinctions. Gastropod and bivalve molluscs from the U.S. coastal plain were evaluated for 10 shell characters that confer resistance to predators. Of 40 tests, one supported the hypothesis; highly ornamented gastropods underwent greater levels of Pliocene-Pleistocene extinction than did nonescalated species. All remaining tests were nonsignificant. The hypothesis that escalated species are more vulnerable to climate-related mass extinctions is not supported.

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