Shell chemistry of the boreal Campanian bivalve Rastellum diluvianum (Linnaeus, 1767) reveals temperature seasonality, growth rates and life cycle of an extinct Cretaceous oyster

de Winter, Niels J.; Ullmann, Clemens V.; Sørensen, Anne M.; Thibault, Nicolas; Goderis, Steven; Van Malderen, Stijn J. M.; Snoeck, Christophe; Goolaerts, Stijn; Vanhaecke, Frank; Claeys, Philippe

The Campanian age (Late Cretaceous) is characterized by a warm greenhouse climate with limited land-ice volume. This makes this period an ideal target for studying climate dynamics during greenhouse periods, which are essential for predictions of future climate change due to anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. Well-preserved fossil shells from the Campanian (inline-formula±78 Ma) high mid-latitude (50inline-formula N) coastal faunas of the Kristianstad Basin (southern Sweden) offer a unique snapshot of short-term climate and environmental variability, which complements existing long-term climate reconstructions. In this study, we apply a combination of high-resolution spatially resolved trace element analyses (micro-X-ray fluorescence – inline-formulaµXRF – and laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry – LA-ICP-MS), stable isotope analyses (IRMS) and growth modeling to study short-term (seasonal) variations recorded in the oyster species Rastellum diluvianum from the Ivö Klack locality. Geochemical records through 12 specimens shed light on the influence of specimen-specific and ontogenetic effects on the expression of seasonal variations in shell chemistry and allow disentangling vital effects from environmental influences in an effort to refine paleoseasonality reconstructions of Late Cretaceous greenhouse climates. Growth models based on stable oxygen isotope records yield information on the mode of life, circadian rhythm and reproductive cycle of these extinct oysters. This multi-proxy study reveals that mean annual temperatures in the Campanian higher mid-latitudes were 17 to 19 inline-formulaC, with winter minima of inline-formula∼13inline-formulaC and summer maxima of 26 inline-formulaC, assuming a Late Cretaceous seawater oxygen isotope composition of inline-formula−1 ‰ VSMOW (Vienna standard mean ocean water). These results yield smaller latitudinal differences in temperature seasonality in the Campanian compared to today. Latitudinal temperature gradients were similar to the present, contrasting with previous notions of “equable climate” during the Late Cretaceous. Our results also demonstrate that species-specific differences and uncertainties in the composition of Late Cretaceous seawater prevent trace element proxies (inline-formulaMg∕Ca, inline-formulaSr∕Ca, inline-formulaMg∕Li and inline-formulaSr∕Li) from being used as reliable temperature proxies for fossil oyster shells. However, trace element profiles can serve as a quick tool for diagenesis screening and investigating seasonal growth patterns in ancient shells.

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de Winter, Niels J. / Ullmann, Clemens V. / Sørensen, Anne M. / et al: Shell chemistry of the boreal Campanian bivalve Rastellum diluvianum (Linnaeus, 1767) reveals temperature seasonality, growth rates and life cycle of an extinct Cretaceous oyster. 2020. Copernicus Publications.

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