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

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

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 δ 13C 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 CO 2 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 δ 13C 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 changes and human evolution.

Chinese Loess Plateau, Human evolution, Interglacial climates, Mid-Brunhes transition, Middle Pleistocene climate variability, Monsoon, Precipitation
0012-8252
Ao, Hong
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Rohling, Eelco J.
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Stringer, Chris
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Roberts, Andrew P.
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Dekkers, Mark J.
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Dupont-Nivet, Guillaume
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Yu, Jimin
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Liu, Qingsong
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Zhang, Peng
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Liu, Zhonghui
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Ma, Xiaolin
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Zhou, Weijian
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Jin, Zhangdong
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Xiao, Guoqiao
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Wang, Hong
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Sun, Qiang
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Yang, Pingguo
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Peng, Xianzhe
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Shi, Zhengguo
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Qiang, Xiaoke
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An, Zhisheng
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Ao, Hong
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Rohling, Eelco J.
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Stringer, Chris
4882ed94-1b65-49b2-ad5b-9c570bcff307
Roberts, Andrew P.
bfc571f6-9c7a-4cc5-8df9-2c41ef5ac2a1
Dekkers, Mark J.
9b5658b0-c0ac-41d4-b8de-c8a1b576489e
Dupont-Nivet, Guillaume
7e6b465e-442a-42ad-966f-cb6a6fe95f3c
Yu, Jimin
9558e475-ac9f-44d3-8c1a-b0540e3b7c3d
Liu, Qingsong
a723ac03-2572-445f-8a70-c9f428d85f19
Zhang, Peng
3ac04b7d-9a7a-41c6-8c9b-85e73c034969
Liu, Zhonghui
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Ma, Xiaolin
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Zhou, Weijian
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Jin, Zhangdong
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Xiao, Guoqiao
fedb642d-9899-48db-83fb-f54ec5117381
Wang, Hong
dfd0ec4f-682a-4596-a0d1-171313cc5733
Sun, Qiang
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Yang, Pingguo
5ef25ee3-a92d-4878-8229-76827793710a
Peng, Xianzhe
060ae62a-d720-43cc-8032-72b448b721c8
Shi, Zhengguo
3f2afcb8-3835-497d-a160-8f85db304564
Qiang, Xiaoke
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An, Zhisheng
1a0ec40b-125b-4917-a77f-c8c4c3e00dda

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 and An, Zhisheng (2020) Two-stage mid-Brunhes climate transition and mid-Pleistocene human diversification. Earth-Science Reviews, 210, [103354]. (doi:10.1016/j.earscirev.2020.103354).

Record type: Review

Abstract

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 δ 13C 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 CO 2 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 δ 13C 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 changes and human evolution.

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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 4 September 2020
e-pub ahead of print date: 9 September 2020
Published date: 1 November 2020
Keywords: Chinese Loess Plateau, Human evolution, Interglacial climates, Mid-Brunhes transition, Middle Pleistocene climate variability, Monsoon, Precipitation

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 447945
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/447945
ISSN: 0012-8252
PURE UUID: fe807692-67cc-4cd9-ad5d-db04e06479f8
ORCID for Eelco J. Rohling: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-5349-2158

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 26 Mar 2021 17:31
Last modified: 28 Apr 2022 01:38

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Contributors

Author: Hong Ao
Author: Chris Stringer
Author: Andrew P. Roberts
Author: Mark J. Dekkers
Author: Guillaume Dupont-Nivet
Author: Jimin Yu
Author: Qingsong Liu
Author: Peng Zhang
Author: Zhonghui Liu
Author: Xiaolin Ma
Author: Weijian Zhou
Author: Zhangdong Jin
Author: Guoqiao Xiao
Author: Hong Wang
Author: Qiang Sun
Author: Pingguo Yang
Author: Xianzhe Peng
Author: Zhengguo Shi
Author: Xiaoke Qiang
Author: Zhisheng An

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