Taxa surviving end-Cretaceous extinction

Ken Kinman kinman2 at YAHOO.COM
Sun Nov 14 22:41:48 CST 2004


Dear All,

      There have been a lot of news reports on a recent presentation at the Denver geological conference, one which challenges the severity of the climactic impact of the asteroid at the end of the Cretaceous.  Not that such challenges are unusual, but this one seems to be based on a series of doubtful suppositions, inferences, and rather dubious logic.  Even the mention of the word cladistic (along with other scientific code words) will not transform rubbish into gems of wisdom, although it may fool many.

     I will not try to address all the holes in this particular argument, but I will address one which illustrates the failure of many scientists to immerse themselves into what it was like for organisms to attempt to survive such a massive extinction event.  Suggesting that stingless bees (Meliponini) could not survive the predicted scarcity of angiosperm pollen shows a regretful lack of imagination.  Even under normal conditions, they can and do gather the spores and exudates from molds, and there would have huge amounts of mold growing on rotting plants and animals.  And that's just one such possible source of nutrients in a pinch (and oh, what a pinch the end-Cretaceous created).

     There have been a whole series of such arguments over the years.  How did delicate-skinned frogs survive?  Well, some of them were estivating or hibernating deep in the ground at the time.  It just takes a little more imagination and putting yourself in the place of the organisms that survived.  Sort of like "walking a mile in their shoes" (taxon "empathy", if you will).  Anyway, you can read the abstract for yourself through the link below.  I just hope this is not going to be her thesis topic:

    http://gsa.confex.com/gsa/2004AM/finalprogram/abstract_80171.htm




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