The end-Cretaceous Chicxulub impact triggered Earth’s last mass-extinction, extinguishing ~ 75% of species diversity and facilitating a global ecological shift to mammal-dominated biomes. Temporal details of the impact event on a fine scale (hour-to-day), important to understanding the early trajectory of mass-extinction, have largely eluded previous studies. This study employs histological and histo-isotopic analyses of fossil fish that were coeval with a unique impact-triggered mass-death assemblage from the Cretaceous-Paleogene (KPg) boundary in North Dakota (USA). Patterns of growth history, including periodicity of ẟ18O and ẟ13C and growth band morphology, plus corroborating data from fish ontogeny and seasonal insect behavior, reveal that the impact occurred during boreal Spring/Summer, shortly after the spawning season for fish and most continental taxa. The severity and taxonomic symmetry of response to global natural hazards are influenced by the season during which they occur, suggesting that post-impact perturbations could have exerted a selective force that was exacerbated by seasonal timing. Data from this study can also provide vital hindsight into patterns of extant biotic response to global-scale hazards that are relevant to both current and future biomes.
DePalma, R.A., Oleinik, A.A., Gurche, L.P. et al. Seasonal calibration of the end-cretaceous Chicxulub impact event. Sci Rep 11, 23704 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-03232-9