Abstract

Degree of bioturbation, Thalassinoides isp. morphology, and diameters were compared across the Cretaceous–Paleogene (K–Pg) boundary interval at three localities along the New Jersey coastal plain. Within this regionally extensive ichnoassemblage, mean burrow diameters decrease abruptly by 26–29% (n = 1767) at the base of the Main Fossiliferous Layer (MFL) or laterally equivalent horizons. The base of the MFL has been previously interpreted as the K–Pg boundary based on the last occurrence of Cretaceous marine reptiles, birds, and ammonites, as well as iridium anomalies and associated shocked quartz. Along with the mean, the maximum and minimum burrow diameters exhibit a negative shift, which indicates that the changes are the result of a directional reduction in diameter, rather than an artifact of decreased variance. As a proxy for the size of the tracemaker, a change in burrow diameter indicates a decrease in thalassinid crustacean body size. We interpret this shift as dwarfing within the endobenthic community as detrital food sources became scarce following the mass extinction. Despite the difference in size, there is no change in framework geometry. Ichnofabric indices generally increase up-section at each site across the K–Pg chronostratigraphic boundary, indicating a regional reduction in sedimentation rate, which is supported by a gradual increase in glauconite maturity. Overall, the ichnological evidence at these localities suggests that a prolonged period of negative feedback followed a short-term positive endobenthic response across the K–Pg boundary.

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