No phylogenetic evidence for angiosperm mass extinction at the Cretaceous-Palaeogene (K-Pg) boundary

Jamie B. Thompson, Santiago Ramírez-Barahona

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3 Citations (SciVal)


The Cretaceous-Palaeogene mass extinction event (K-Pg) witnessed upwards of 75% of animal species going extinct, most notably among these are the non-avian dinosaurs. A major question in macroevolution is whether this extinction event influenced the rise of flowering plants (angiosperms). The fossil record suggests that the K-Pg event had a strong regional impact on angiosperms with up to 75% species extinctions, but only had a minor impact on the extinction rates of major lineages (families and orders). Phylogenetic evidence for angiosperm extinction dynamics through time remains unexplored. By analysing two angiosperm mega-phylogenies containing approximately 32 000-73 000 extant species, here we show relatively constant extinction rates throughout geological time and no evidence for a mass extinction at the K-Pg boundary. Despite high species-level extinction observed in the fossil record, our results support the macroevolutionary resilience of angiosperms to the K-Pg mass extinction event via survival of higher lineages.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20230314
Number of pages6
JournalBiology Letters
Issue number9
Early online date13 Sept 2023
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sept 2023

Bibliographical note

This study was funded by a Roger and Sue Whorrod Scholarship to J.B.T.


  • K-Pg
  • angiosperms
  • diversification
  • extinction
  • macroevolution
  • mass extinction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)


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