The two Early Toarcian (Early Jurassic) extinction events in ammonoids



The Early Toarcian (Early Jurassic) biological crisis was one of the ‘minor’ mass extinctions. It is linked with an oceanic anoxic event. Fossil data from sections located in northwestern European (epicontinental platforms and basins) and Tethyan (distal, epioceanic) areas indicate that Late Pliensbachian–Early Toarcian ammonoids experienced two extinction events during the Early Toarcian. The older one is linked with disruption of the Tethyan–Boreal provinciality, whereas the younger event correlates with the onset of anoxia and corresponds with the Early Toarcian mass-extinction event. These two extinctions cannot be interpreted as episodes of a single, stepwise, event. Values of the net diversification, more than the number of extinctions, allow the two extinction events to be clearly recognized and distinguished. Values of regional net diversification for northwestern European and Tethyan faunas point to greater evolutionary dynamics in the epioceanic areas. The inclusion of Mediterranean faunas in the database proves that the ammonite turnover at the Early Toarcian mass-extinction event was more important than previously thought. Progenitor (evolute Neolioceratoides), survivor (Dactylioceras, Polyplectus pluricostatus) and Lazarus (Procliviceras) taxa have been recognized. Different selectivity patterns are shown for the two events. The first one, linked to the disruption of the Tethyan–Boreal provinciality, has mainly affected ammonites adapted to epicontinental platforms. In the mass-extinction event, no selectivity is recognized, because also Phylloceratina and Lytoceratina were deeply affected at species level, although their wide biogeographical distribution at clade level was a significant buffer against extinction. In contrast to Palaeozoic mass extinctions, ammonoid survivors and Lazarus taxa are characterized by complex sutures: Phylloceratina (long-ranging ammonoids) and Polyplectus (relatively long-ranging compared to other Ammonitina).