The relationship between long-sequence climate change and Miocene hominoid evolution in the Yunnan region of southwestern China has recently received some attention, partly because this region has been regarded as a “refugium” for hominoids at the end of the Miocene. Here, we carry out a high-resolution reconstruction of climate evolution in the Zhaotong Basin of Yunnan through the late Miocene to Pliocene using chemical weathering indices and other proxies. The results reveal gradual cooling within generally warm and humid conditions from 8.8–6.2 Ma; three more marked cooling episodes from 6.2–5.0 Ma; cool and humid conditions from 5.0–2.8 Ma; finally, cold and humid conditions from 2.8–2.62 Ma. The evidence is compatible with a scenario in which terminal Miocene cooling episodes within a prevailing warm and humid climate, and associated changes in vegetation, may have been critical factors in the disappearance of hominoids from this region.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)