The palynologically defined Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary in the western interior of North America occurs at the top of an iridium-rich clay layer. The boundary is characterized by the abrupt disappearance of certain pollen species, immediately followed by a pronounced, geologically brief change in the ratio of fern spores to angiosperm pollen. The occurrence of these changes at two widely separated sites implies continentwide disruption of the terrestrial ecosystem, probably caused by a major catastrophic event at the end of the period.
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Disruption of the terrestrial plant ecosystem at the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary, western interior