he western interior of North America has the only known non-marine sections that contain the iridium-rich clay interpreted as the Cretaceous-Tertiary (K-T) boundary1-7. Because vegetation and climate can be directly inferred from physiognomy of leaves8-15 and because leaf species typically represent low taxonomic categories, studies of leaf floras in these sections provide data on the effects of a terminal Cretaceous event on the land flora, vegetation and climate. A previous study based on detailed sampling of leaves and their dispersed cuticle16 in the Raton Basin provides a framework for interpretation of other leaf sequences over 20 degrees of latitude. We conclude that at the boundary there were: (1) High levels of extinction in the south and low levels in the north; (2) major ecological disruption followed by long-term vegetational changes that mimicked normal ecological succession; (3) a major increase in precipitation; and (4) a brief, low-temperature excursion, which supports models of an 'impact winter'. ?? 1986 Nature Publishing Group.
Additional publication details
Vegetation, climatic and floral changes at the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary