Abstract

The inner Atlantic Coastal Plain in New Jersey and the Delmarva Peninsula is underlain by an Upper Cretaceous-lower Tertiary sequence of marine and paralic sand, clay, and glauconitic beds. Campanian, Maastrichtian, Danian, and Thanetian deposits are especially fossiliferous and yield a succession of marine faunas that reveal a pattern of selective extinction and survival across the Cretaceous/Tertiary (K/T) boundary in this area. Cretaceous benthic invertebrate communities are dominated by oysters and other semi-infaunal and infaunal molluscs with planktotrophic larval stages. These are replaced in the Danian by brachiopod-dominated communities that are composed of epifaunal benthos with a variety of nonplanktotrophic reproductive strategies. A similar pattern is observable in the nektonic cephalopod populations in this sequence; the typical ammonites of the Cretaceous became extinct at the K/T boundary, whereas the nautilids survived. Ammonites are thought to have had a planktotrophic larval stage, whereas nautilids are known to lay large lecithotrophic eggs. This pattern of differential survival is attributed to the planktonic population crash at the K/T boundary which placed planktotrophically reproducing species at a disadvantage while favoring the varied groups that practiced alternative reproductive strategies.

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