Plio-Pleistocene African Climate

Science  06 Oct 1995:
Vol. 270, Issue 5233, pp. 53-59
DOI: 10.1126/science.270.5233.53


Marine records of African climate variability document a shift toward more arid conditions after 2.8 million years ago (Ma), evidently resulting from remote forcing by cold North Atlantic sea-surface temperatures associated with the onset of Northern Hemisphere glacial cycles. African climate before 2.8 Ma was regulated by low-latitude insolation forcing of monsoonal climate due to Earth orbital precession. Major steps in the evolution of African hominids and other vertebrates are coincident with shifts to more arid, open conditions near 2.8 Ma, 1.7 Ma, and 1.0 Ma, suggesting that some Pliocene (Plio)-Pleistocene speciation events may have been climatically mediated.

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