Paleoecology of the K-Pg mass extinction survivor Guembelitria (Cushman): Isotopic evidence from pristine foraminifera from Brazos River, Texas (Maastrichtian)

Sarit Ashckenazi-Polivoda, Carmi Rak, Ahuva Almogi-Labin, Berner Zsolt, Ofer Ovadia, Sigal Abramovich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The late Maastrichtian sediments of the Mullinax-1 and Mullinax-3 boreholes from Brazos River, Texas, offer pristine material. These cores are prime candidates for providing an extraordinary window into the ecology of Guembelitria, a key genus in the K/Pg mass extinction event, as well as information on the habitats of other neritic species. Stable oxygen and carbon isotope analyses were performed on six planktic species (Guembelitria cretacea, Globigerinelloides asper, Heterohelix globulosa, Paraspiroplecta navarroensis, Pseudoguembelina costulata, Rugoglobigerina rugosa) and three benthic genera (Gavelinella, Cibicides, and Lenticulina). Our records support the contention that Guembelitria was fully planktic, as indicated by its δ18O values, which overlap the other planktic species, despite its possible origin from a tychopelagic benthic ancestor. However, Guembelitria is distinctly ranked very low in δ13C values, which overlap the benthic records. The anomalously low δ13C values of Guembelitria may represent an isotopic disequilibrium due to fast shell growth, like in its modern analogue Gallitellia vivans. Another explanation may be that these values are attributable to a neustonic life mode in the uppermost part of the oceans, where photosynthesis is inhibited by high UV and the near absence of nutrients. Because these waters are not photosynthetically depleted, calcification using carbon directly from these waters should yield δ13C values consistent with those found in Guembelitria. The ecological strategy that Guembelitria species used to deal with the nutrient-poor surface-water environments was an opportunistic blooming during stressful times of Maastrichtian global warming events and later during the K-Pg catastrophe.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24-33
Number of pages10
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • Paleontology


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