Evol Ecol Res 12: 235-248 (2010)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Precipitation and large herbivorous mammals II: application to fossil data

J.T. Eronen1,2, K. Puolamäki3, L. Liu1,4, K. Lintulaakso1, J. Damuth5, C. Janis6 and M. Fortelius1,7

1Department of Geosciences and Geography, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland, 2Department of Computer Science, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland, 3Department of Media Technology, Helsinki University of Technology, Helsinki, Finland, 4Laboratory of Evolutionary Systematics of Vertebrates, Chinese Academy of Science, Beijing, China,  5Department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology, University of California, Santa Barbara, California, USA,  6Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, USA and  7Institute of Biotechnology, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland

Correspondence: J.T. Eronen, Department of Geosciences and Geography, University of Helsinki, PO Box 64, FI-00014 Helsinki, Finland.
e-mail: jussi.t.eronen@helsinki.fi


Background: We developed a method to estimate precipitation using mammalian ecomorphology, specifically the relative height of the molars of herbivores (see companion paper, this issue).

Question: If we apply the new method to paleoenvironments, do the results agree with previous results from fossil mammals and paleobotanical proxies?

Data: Large herbivorous fossil mammals of Eurasia. Data from NOW database covers 23–22 Ma and is Eurasia-wide.

Method: We apply the new precipitation estimation method (based on present-day mammalian ecomorphology) to fossil assemblages from different localities.

Conclusions: The early Miocene retained the overall humid conditions of the late Paleogene. A shift to more arid conditions began during the middle Miocene. The late Miocene as a whole was a time of large changes, and there was continent-wide restructuring of the distribution of environments. Our new results agree with previous investigations and the mammal proxy data are in good agreement with palaeovegetation data. Mammals and vegetation produce similar precipitation values and large-scale patterns.

Keywords: climate, Eurasia, fossil mammals, hypsodonty, Neogene, precipitation.

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