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Book Chapter

Vertebrate and Hominid Evolution as a Response to Climate Change

January 01, 2000


From the latest Miocene to the Holocene period, three biotic events in the large mammal communities of the western Mediterranean region show significant and robust diversity changes and/or turnover with respect to sampling, and correspond in time to significant pulses of the latest Cenozoic glaciations. The ‘Ruscinian mammal turnover pulse’ represents a major biotic event close to the ‘Messinian salinity crisis’. This can be described more as a turnover than a dispersion event. The pattern of turnover shows a significantly high value of first appearances close to the Mio-Pliocene transition; last appearances were also important but reduced significantly in the following interval. A Southern Hemisphere glaciation event has been related to the Messinian crisis. The second major biotic event corresponds to the so-called ‘Equus–elephant event’ during early Villafranchian time. The relevance of this dispersal event is proved by a marked increase in diversity as a result of a high number of first appearances. Between 3.0 and 2.6 Ma the onset of bi-polar glaciations occurred, followed by glacial–interglacial cycles of moderate amplitude sustained at the orbital periodicity of 41 ka. The last major biotic event was the ‘Galerian mammal turnover pulse’ around 1.0 Ma. This turnover represents an important community reorganization that marks a total rejuvenation of the fauna and is coincident with the arrival of Homo species in the western Mediterranean region. At this time, glacial maxima became more extreme and the dominant periodicity of variation shifted to 100 ka, which is attributed to the massive Northern Hemisphere ice sheets.

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Geological Society, London, Special Publications

Climates: Past and Present

Malcolm B. Hart
Malcolm B. Hart
Department of Geological Sciences, University of Plymouth, UK
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Geological Society of London
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Publication date:
January 01, 2000




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