Thursday, July 02, 2009

The Late Miocene Pikermian Chronofauna

Distribution history and climatic controls of the Late Miocene Pikermian chronofauna

1. Jussi T. Eronen (a,1)
2. Majid Mirzaie Ataabadi (a)
3. Arne Micheels (b)
4. Aleksis Karme (a)
5. Raymond L. Bernor (c,d)
6. Mikael Fortelius (a, e)

a Department of Geology and

e Institute of Biotechnology, FIN-00014 University of Helsinki, Finland;

b Senckenberg Forschungsinstitut und Naturmuseum, Biodiversität und Klima Forschungszentrum (BiK-F), Senckenberganlage 25, D-60325, Frankfurt am Main, Germany;

c Sedimentary Geology and Paleobiology Program, Geosciences/Earth Sciences, National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22230; and

d College of Medicine, Department of Anatomy, Laboratory of Evolutionary Biology, Howard University, 520 W Street Northwest, Washington, D.C. 20059


The Late Miocene development of faunas and environments in western Eurasia is well known, but the climatic and environmental processes that controlled its details are incompletely understood. Here we map the rise and fall of the classic Pikermian fossil mammal chronofauna between 12 and 4.2 Ma, using genus-level faunal similarity between localities. To directly relate land mammal community evolution to environmental change, we use the hypsodonty paleoprecipitation proxy and paleoclimate modeling. The geographic distribution of faunal similarity and paleoprecipitation in successive timeslices shows the development of the open biome that favored the evolution and spread of the open-habitat adapted large mammal lineages. In the climate model run, this corresponds to a decrease in precipitation over its core area south of the Paratethys Sea. The process began in the latest Middle Miocene and climaxed in the medial Late Miocene, about 7–8 million years ago. The geographic range of the Pikermian chronofauna contracted in the latest Miocene, a time of increasing summer drought and regional differentiation of habitats in Eastern Europe and Southwestern Asia. Its demise at the Miocene-Pliocene boundary coincides with an environmental reversal toward increased humidity and forestation, changes inevitably detrimental to open-adapted, wide-ranging large mammals.

Likewise. No time.

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