Two-stage mid-Brunhes climate transition and mid-Pleistocene human diversification

Type Article
Date 2020-11
Language English
Author(s) Ao Hong1, 2, 3, 4, Rohling Eelco J.5, 6, Stringer Chris7, Roberts Andrew P.5, Dekkers Mark J.8, Dupont-Nivet Guillaume9, Yu Jimin5, Liu Qingsong10, Zhang Peng1, 3, Liu Zhonghui11, Ma Xiaolin1, 3, Zhou Weijian1, 2, 3, Jin Zhangdong1, 2, 3, 12, Xiao Guoqiao4, Wang Hong13, Sun Qiang14, Yang Pingguo15, Peng Xianzhe4, Shi Zhengguo1, Qiang Xiaoke1, An Zhisheng1, 2, 3
Affiliation(s) 1 : State Key Laboratory of Loess and Quaternary Geology, Institute of Earth Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xi'an, China
2 : CAS Center for Excellence in Quaternary Science and Global Change, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xi'an, China
3 : Open Studio for Oceanic-Continental Climate and Environment Changes, Pilot National Laboratory for Marine Science and Technology (Qingdao), Qingdao, China
4 : State Key Laboratory of Biogeology and Environmental Geology, School of Earth Sciences, China University of Geosciences, Wuhan, China
5 : Research School of Earth Sciences, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia
6 : Ocean and Earth Science, University of Southampton, National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, UK
7 : Centre for Human Evolution Research (CHER), Department of Earth Sciences, Natural History Museum, London, UK
8 : Paleomagnetic Laboratory ‘Fort Hoofddijk’, Department of Earth Sciences, Faculty of Geosciences, Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands
9 : Université de Rennes, CNRS, Géosciences Rennes, Rennes, France
10 : Centre for Marine Magnetism (CM2), Department of Ocean Science and Engineering, Southern University of Science and Technology, Shenzhen, China
11 : Department of Earth Sciences, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China
12 : Institute of Global Environmental Change, Xi'an Jiaotong University, Xi'an, China
13 : Interdisciplinary Research Center of Earth Science Frontier, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China
14 : College of Geology and Environment, Xi'an University of Science and Technology, Xi'an, China
15 : College of Life Sciences, Shanxi Normal University, Linfen, China
Source Earth-science Reviews (0012-8252) (Elsevier BV), 2020-11 , Vol. 210 , P. 103354 (19p.)
DOI 10.1016/j.earscirev.2020.103354
WOS© Times Cited 3
Keyword(s) Mid-Brunhes transition, Middle Pleistocene climate variability, Interglacial climates, Precipitation, Monsoon, Human evolution, Chinese Loess Plateau

Global climate shifted to markedly warmer interglacial conditions across the “mid-Brunhes transition” (MBT, ~400 ka). However, a global MBT synthesis that spans marine and terrestrial evidence remains elusive, which limits our understanding of the role of the MBT in mid-Pleistocene human evolution. We synthesize Asian precipitation reconstructions within a context of global palaeoclimatic records and find that the MBT occurred in two stages. First, stronger warming of northern hemisphere continents, weaker southern hemisphere warming, and related more extensive northward displacement of the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ) during interglacial marine isotope stage (MIS) 13 intensified and expanded precipitation in Asian monsoon regions and in other widespread northern hemisphere regions, with accompanying carbon reservoir changes featuring globally high marine benthic δ13C values because of vegetation expansion at ~500 ka. Subdued southern hemisphere warming and northward ITCZ displacement decreased southern hemisphere precipitation simultaneously during MIS 13. Second, a shift to globally warmer interglacials at ~400 ka, with elevated atmospheric CO2 concentrations, smaller ice volume, and higher sea level resulted in sustained high interglacial precipitation in East Asia from MIS 11 onward and sustained high marine benthic δ13C values during MIS 11. We also synthesize palaeoanthropological data and find that the climate and ecosystem changes across the MBT coincided with the timing of human lineage diversification, including the emergence of Neanderthals and Denisovans in Eurasia and Homo sapiens in Africa, and their potential coexistence with H. heidelbergensis, H. erectus, H. floresiensis, H. naledi, and other Homo archaics. The timing of the MBT also coincided with novel hominin behavioural developments, including fire control and the transition from handaxe industries to more versatile Levallois techniques. Combined with environmental theories of human evolution, this chronological coincidence suggests a potential link between mid-Pleistocene environmental and human evolution.

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Ao Hong, Rohling Eelco J., Stringer Chris, Roberts Andrew P., Dekkers Mark J., Dupont-Nivet Guillaume, Yu Jimin, Liu Qingsong, Zhang Peng, Liu Zhonghui, Ma Xiaolin, Zhou Weijian, Jin Zhangdong, Xiao Guoqiao, Wang Hong, Sun Qiang, Yang Pingguo, Peng Xianzhe, Shi Zhengguo, Qiang Xiaoke, An Zhisheng (2020). Two-stage mid-Brunhes climate transition and mid-Pleistocene human diversification. Earth-science Reviews, 210, 103354 (19p.). Publisher's official version : , Open Access version :