Stepwise onset of the Icehouse world and its impact on Oligo-Miocene Central Asian mammals
Central Asia is a key area to study the impact of Cenozoic climate cooling on continental ecosystems. One of the best places to search for rather continuous paleontological records is the Valley of Lakes in Mongolia with its outstandingly fossil-rich Oligocene and Miocene terrestrial sediments. Here, we investigate the response by mammal communities during the early stage of Earth's icehouse climate in Central Asia. Based on statistical analyses of occurrence and abundance data of 18608 specimens representing 175 mammal species and geochemical (carbon isotopes) and geophysical (magnetic susceptibility) data we link shifts in diversities with major climatic variations. Our data document for the first time that the post-Eocene aridification of Central Asia happened in several steps, was interrupted by short episodes of increased precipitation, and was not a gradual process. We show that the timing of the major turnovers in Oligocene mammal communities is tightly linked with global climate events rather than slow tectonics processes. The most severe decline of up 48% of total diversity is related to aridification during the maximum of the Late Oligocene Warming at 25 Ma. Its magnitude was distinctly larger than the community turnover linked to the mid-Oligocene Glacial Maximum.
- ISSN: 2045-2322