Indication of Global Deforestation at the Cretaceous-Tertiary Boundary by New Zealand Fern Spike

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Science  23 Nov 2001:
Vol. 294, Issue 5547, pp. 1700-1702
DOI: 10.1126/science.1064706

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The devastating effect on terrestrial plant communities of a bolide impact at the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary is shown in fossil pollen and spore assemblages by a diverse flora being abruptly replaced by one dominated by a few species of fern. Well documented in North America, this fern spike signals widespread deforestation due to an impact winter or massive wildfires. A Southern Hemisphere record of a fern spike, together with a large iridium anomaly, indicates that the devastation was truly global. Recovery of New Zealand plant communities followed a pattern consistent with major climatic perturbations occurring after an impact winter that was possibly preceded by global wildfires.

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