Stable isotope record implicates aridification without warming during the late Capitanian mass extinction

Abstract : The late Capitanian mass extinction (similar to 260 million years ago) represents one of the greatest biotic perturbations of the Phanerozoic and was the earliest mass extinction to affect terrestrial tetra pods and ecosystems. In the past, this extinction has been largely associated with taxonomic loss and ecological restructuring in marine environments but more recently it has also been recognised in terrestrial ecosystems. Though various environmental mechanisms have been proposed for the former, little evidence has yet been presented for the cause of terrestrial extinctions. We determined the stable oxygen and carbon isotope compositions of dentine apatite from twenty-eight specimens of the dicynodont therapsid Diictodon feliceps, to investigate the potential role of climate in driving terrestrial tetrapod extinctions. Studied specimens were recovered from a 270 m stratigraphic interval constraining the peak in tetrapod extinction rates in the uppermost Abrahamskraal Formation in the well sampled main Karoo Basin of South Africa. Our results demonstrate a positive excursion of delta C-13 values coinciding with the extinction peak that is followed by a return to pre-extinction delta C-13 values, suggesting a local increase in aridity at the time of the extinction. For the same time interval, the delta O-18 values did not demonstrate statistically significant changes, suggesting constant temperature in the South African paleoenvironment. This unusual increase in aridity but not in temperature has been interpreted as the possible result of orogenesis in the Cape Fold Mountain source along the southern margin of Gondwana. (C) 2018 International Association for Gondwana Research. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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Kevin Rey, Michael O. Day, Romain Amiot, Jean Goedert, Christophe Lécuyer, et al.. Stable isotope record implicates aridification without warming during the late Capitanian mass extinction. Gondwana Research, 2018, 59, pp.1--8. ⟨10.1016/j.gr.2018.02.017⟩. ⟨hal-02322981⟩

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