Pollen, ostracode, and benthic foraminifer assemblages deposited during sea-level high-stands in subtropical Florida record a climate change during the period 4.5-1.0 Ma. Before 3.5 Ma, open-shelf marine faunas and pollen assemblages with abundant Pinus, Quercus, Fagus, Carya, and nonarboreal pollen were present, indicating cooler conditions than today. From ∼3.5 to 1.0 Ma, marine and terrestrial records indicate warmer conditions, similar to those existing in south Florida today. Combined with evidence for much warmer than modern conditions at high latitudes, these data suggest that increased poleward oceanic heat transport, possibly related to the emergence of the Central American isthmus between ∼3.5 and 2.5 Ma, was a major influence on mid-Pliocene warmth.

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