The large wave of polyploidization following the Cretaceous–Paleogene (K–Pg) mass extinction has been explained by enhanced polyploid persistence arising from adaptive properties of the polyploids themselves, as well as an increase in unreduced gamete production and diploid hybridization. We propose that the demise of diploids afforded opportunities for polyploid establishment and expansion into novel habitats. Augmented polyploid gene pools from diploid and polyploid relatives, in association with their multiple and independent origins (of both autopolyploids and allopolyploids), facilitated their subsequent diversification. Their ability to recruit genetic variation from their diploid relatives or from products of recurrent origins sharing their genome(s) ostensibly contributed to polyploid persistence. Concomitantly, we propose that the number of congeneric diploid species dramatically contracted disproportionally to polyploids during the K–Pg interval (i.e. a diploid trough), resulting in a reduction in the rate of diploid speciation. Accordingly, the preponderance of neopolyploids was likely autopolyploids.