Evol Ecol Res 4: 1005-1016 (2002)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Fossil mammals resolve regional patterns of Eurasian climate change over 20 million years

Mikael Fortelius,1* Jussi Eronen,1 Jukka Jernvall,2 Liping Liu,1,3 Diana Pushkina,1 Juhani Rinne,4 Alexey Tesakov,5 Inesa Vislobokova,6 Zhaoqun Zhang3 and Liping Zhou7

1Department of Geology, University of Helsinki and 2Developmental Biology Program, Institute of Biotechnology, University of Helsinki, Finland, 3Institute of Vertebrate Palaeontology and Palaeoanthropology, Academia Sinica, Beijing, China, 4Finnish Meteorological Institute, Helsinki, Finland, 5Geological Institute and 6Palaeontological Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia and 7Department of Geography, Beijing University, China

Address all correspondence to Mikael Fortelius, Department of Geology, University of Helsinki, PO Box 64, FIN-00014 Helsinki, Finland.
e-mail: mikael.fortelius@helsinki.fi


Fossil teeth of terrestrial plant-eating mammals offer a new, quasi-quantitative proxy for environmental aridity that resolves previously unseen regional features across the Eurasian continent from 24 to 2 million years ago. The pattern seen prior to 11 million years ago are quite different from today’s. Thereafter, a progressively modern rainfall distribution developed at about 7 to 5 million years ago when East Asia remained unexpectedly humid while Europe experienced a transient phase of strong aridity. Mean hypsodonty is a geographically extensive and stratigraphically well-resolved palaeoprecipitation proxy that can be used to constrain the regional details of vegetation and climate models.

Keywords: Eurasian continent, fossil mammal tooth, mid-latitude aridity, Neogene, palaeoprecipitation proxy.

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