Gansu Provincial Museum

Lanzhou, China

Gansu Provincial Museum

Lanzhou, China

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Wang Y.,Florida State University | Wang Y.,CNRS French National High Magnetic Field Laboratory | Xu Y.,Florida State University | Xu Y.,CNRS French National High Magnetic Field Laboratory | And 13 more authors.
Earth and Planetary Science Letters | Year: 2013

A mid-Pliocene fauna (4.2-3.1 Ma) was recently uncovered in the Zanda (Zhada) Basin in the southwestern Himalaya, at an elevation of about 4200 m above sea level. These fossil materials provide a unique window for examining the linkage among tectonic, climatic and biotic changes. Here we report the results from isotopic analyses of this fauna and of modern herbivores and waters as well as paleo-temperature estimates from the Zanda Basin. The δ13C values of enamel samples from modern wild Tibetan asses, and domesticated horses, cows and goats in the area are -9.4 ± 1.8‰, which indicate a diet comprising predominantly of C3 plants and are consistent with the current dominance of C3 vegetation in the region. The enamel-δ13C values of the fossil horses, rhinos, deer, and bovids are -9.6 ± 0.8‰, indicating that these ancient mammals, like modern herbivores in the area, also fed primarily on C3 vegetation and lived in an environment dominated by C3 plants. The lack of significant C4 plants in the basin suggests that the area had reached high elevations (>2.5 km) by at least the mid-Pliocene. Taking into account the changes in the δ13C of atmospheric CO2 in the past, the enamel-δ13C values suggest that the average modern-equivalent δ13C value of C3 vegetation in the Zanda Basin in the mid-Pliocene was ~1-2‰ lower than that of the C3 biomass in the basin today. This would imply a reduction in annual precipitation by about 200-400 mm in the area since then (assuming that the modern C3 δ13C-precipitation relationship applied to the past). Consistent with this inference from the δ13C data, the enamel-δ18O data show a significant shift to higher values after the mid-Pliocene, which also suggests a shift in climate to much drier conditions after ~4-3 Ma.Paleo-temperature estimates derived from a fossil bone-based oxygen isotope temperature proxy as well as the carbonate clumped isotope thermometer for the mid-Pliocene Zanda Basin are higher than the present-day mean annual temperature in the area. After accounting for late Cenozoic global cooling, these paleo-temperature estimates suggest that the paleo-elevation of the Zanda Basin in the mid-Pliocene was similar to or slightly (less than ~1 km) lower than its present-day elevation, which is consistent with the inference from the δ13C data. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.


Zhang C.,Florida State University | Zhang C.,Fort Hays State University | Wang Y.,Florida State University | Li Q.,CAS Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology | And 6 more authors.
Earth and Planetary Science Letters | Year: 2012

The timing history and driving mechanisms of C4 expansion and Tibetan uplift are hotly debated issues. Paleoenvironmental evidence from within the Tibetan Plateau is essential to help resolve these issues. Here we report results of stable C and O isotope analyses of tooth enamel samples from a variety of late Cenozoic mammals, including deer, giraffe, horse, rhino, and elephant, from the Qaidam Basin in the northeastern Tibetan Plateau. The enamel-δ 13C values are <-8‰ for modern samples and ≤-7‰ for fossils, except for one late Miocene rhino (CD0722, with δ 13C values up to -4.1‰). If the Qaidam Basin was as arid as today in the Mio-Pliocene, these data would indicate that the majority of the animals had C3 diets and only a few individuals (besides the exceptional rhino CD0722) may have consumed some C4 plants. Based on geological evidence, however, the Qaidam Basin was probably warmer and more humid during the late Miocene and early Pliocene than today. Thus, these δ 13C values likely indicate that many individuals had significant dietary intakes of C4 plants, and the Qaidam Basin had more C4 plants in the late Miocene and early Pliocene than today. Moreover, the Qaidam Basin likely had much denser vegetation at those times in order to support such large mammals as rhinos and elephants. While the δ 18O values did not increase monotonously with time, the range of variation seems to have increased considerably since the early Pliocene, indicating increased aridification in the basin. The mean δ 18O values of large mammals and those reconstructed for local meteoric waters display a significant negative shift in the late Miocene, consistent with the marine δ 18O record which shows a cooling trend in the same period. Taken together, the isotope data suggest a warmer, wetter, and perhaps lower Qaidam Basin during the late Miocene and early Pliocene. Increased aridification after the early Pliocene is likely due to a combined effect of regional tectonism, which resulted in a more effective barrier preventing moisture from the Indian Ocean or Bay of Bengal from reaching the basin, and global cooling. © 2012 Elsevier B.V.


Wang X.,Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County | Wang X.,CAS Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology | Wang X.,University of Southern California | Li Q.,CAS Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology | And 13 more authors.
Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology | Year: 2013

The Pliocene (5.3-2.6. Ma) of Tibet witnessed the drying of the northern Tibetan Plateau and the approach to the Pleistocene Ice Age within the background of intensifying Indian and East Asian monsoons. Yet little is known about Pliocene mammals living on the high Tibetan Plateau despite the fact that fossil mammals elsewhere constitute an important knowledge base for terrestrial environments. The late Miocene to Pleistocene Zanda Basin at the northern foothills of the Himalayas affords a welcome opportunity to evaluate the biological response to environmental change at high elevations. Abundant, well-preserved fossil mammals and fish from an 800-m continuous section of fine- to coarse-grained sediments thus open a rare window into a past biological world. For example, the discovery of an ancestral wooly rhino from Zanda Basin that was the precursor of its late Pleistocene megafaunal descendants leads to our "out-of Tibet" hypothesis, suggesting that the high Tibetan Plateau was a Pliocene cradle for Ice Age cold adaptations.In this paper, we document in detail the mammalian biostratigraphy, chronology, and paleozoogeography based on Zanda Basin fossil mammals. Our high-resolution biostratigraphy and biochronology offer for the first time independent constraints that both support and modify recent magnetostratigraphic correlations. Using characteristic Pliocene and Pleistocene mammals, particularly the small mammal assemblages in the lower part of the section and monodactylid Equus from the upper section, we propose a correlation to C1n to C3An.1r, with an age range of ~. 400. Ka to 6.4. Ma.Within the 800-m Zanda section, the lower 0-150. m is of latest Miocene age, spanning 6.4-5.3. Ma. Sparsely fossiliferous, the lower section has produced five taxa so far: Ochotona, Panthera, Qurliqnoria, Palaeotragus, and Hipparion-all are consistent with a late Miocene age. The middle 150-620. m section spans the entire Pliocene. This section is by far the most fossiliferous, including such typical Pliocene small mammals as Prosiphneus, Mimomys, Apodemus, and Trischizolagus, as well as large mammals such as Coelodonta thibetana, Hipparion zandaense, Chasmaporthetes, Nyctereutes, Meles, Antilospira, and others. In the upper 620-800. m section the fossils are rare, but do include characteristic Pleistocene taxa such as Equus.Zoogeographically Zanda Basin mammals are a mixture from two major sources. Taxa such as Mimomys, Prosiphneus, Trischizolagus, Chasmaporthetes, Nyctereutes, Meles, and Xenocyon are commonly found in north China or east Asia. In contrast, several forms, such as unique species of pikas (Ochotona), squirrels (Aepyosciurus), and ancestral Tibetan antelope (Qurliqnoria), seem to belong to an indigenous Tibetan fauna evolved within the plateau. A lack of shared taxa with the Oriental Realm suggests a formidable barrier by the Himalayas despite a short distance (~. 100. km) between Zanda Basin and the Indian subcontinent. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.


Li Q.,CAS Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology | Wang X.,CAS Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology | Xie G.,Gansu Provincial Museum | Yin A.,University of California at Los Angeles
PLoS ONE | Year: 2013

A shortage of Cenozoic vertebrate fossils in the Tibetan Plateau has been an obstacle in our understanding of biological evolution in response to changes in tectonism, topography, and environment. This is especially true for Paleogene records, so far known by only two sites along the northern rim of the Plateau. We report a Hongyazi Basin in northern Tibetan Plateau that produces at least three mammalian faunas that span Oligocene through late Miocene. Located at the foothills of the Danghe Nanshan and presently connected to the northern margin of the Suganhu Basin through the Greater Haltang River, the intermountain basin is controlled by the tectonics of the Danghe Nanshan to the north and Chahan'ebotu Mountain to the south, making the basin sediments well suited for inferring the evolutionary history of these two mountain ranges. At the bottom of the local section, the Oligocene Haltang Fauna is best compared to the early Oligocene Desmatolagus- Karakoromys decessus assemblage in the Dingdanggou Fauna in Tabenbuluk Basin. The Middle Miocene Ebotu Fauna from the middle Hongyazi section shares many taxa with the late Middle Miocene Tunggur mammal assemblage in Inner Mongolia, such as Heterosminthus orientalis, Megacricetodon sinensis, Democricetodon lindsayi, and Alloptox gobiensis. Toward the top of the section, the Hongyazi Fauna includes late Miocene elements typical of Hipparion faunas of North China. All three faunas are of typical North China-Central Asian characteristics, suggesting a lack of geographic barriers for faunal differentiation through the late Miocene. Sedimentary packages producing these faunas are arrayed from north to south in progressively younger strata, consistent with a compressive regime to accommodate shortening between Danghe Nanshan and Chahan'ebotu Mountain by thrust faults and folds. With additional constraints from vertebrate fossils along the northern flanks of the Danghe Nanshan, an eastward propagation of the Danghe Nanshan is postulated. © 2013 Li et al.


Wang S.Q.,CAS Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology | Zhao D.S.,Gansu Industrial Occupational Technology College | Xie G.P.,Gansu Provincial Museum | Sun B.Y.,CAS Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology
Science China Earth Sciences | Year: 2014

We report a fossil specimen referable to Sinomastodontinae gen. et sp. indet. from the Neogene strata at Yanghecun locality, Xihe County, Gansu Province, China. The specimen is characterized by a brevirostrine mandible, complete pretrite trefoils, and relatively simple posttrite half lophids, showing typical features of Sinomastodon. It differs from the other known species of Sinomastodon by the following features: relatively short and wide m3 due to fewer lophid numbers, less inflated pretrite accessory central conules, poorly developed secondary trefoils and cementum, and relatively strong cingulid. All of these features indicate a bias towards pleisiomorphies of Sinomastodon, implying that this specimen is more ancestral than any known species of Sinomastodon. The symphysis of the new specimen is relatively long, which differs from the typical brevirostrine Sinomastodon, and thus we consider it a gen. et sp. indet. in the Subfamily Sinomastodontinae. In addition, the horizon in which the present specimen was found probably represents the Upper Miocene because it is lower than Pliocene strata yielding Hipparion (Proboscidipparon) pater. Generally, Sinomastodon is considered to have migrated from North America at about the time of the Miocene/Pliocene boundary, and to have been derived from a certain clade of American gomphotheres. However, the discovery of the Yanghecun specimen verifies that Sinomastodon lived in East Asia during the Late Miocene, and probably derived from Old World gomphotheres (e.g., G. wimani). The similarity between the members of the Subfamilies Sinomastodontinae and those of Cuvieroniinae is suggested to have been the result of parallel evolution. © 2014, Science China Press and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.


Wang X.,Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County | Wang X.,CAS Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology | Wang X.,Nanjing University | Wang X.,University of Southern California | And 8 more authors.
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences | Year: 2014

The 'third pole' of the world is a fitting metaphor for the Himalayan- Tibetan Plateau, in allusion to its vast frozen terrain, rivalling the Arctic and Antarctic, at high altitude but lowlatitude. Living Tibetan and arcticmammals share adaptations to freezing temperatures such as long and thick winter fur in arctic muskox and Tibetan yak, and for carnivorans, a more predatory niche. Here, we report, to our knowledge, the first evolutionary link between an Early Pliocene (3.60-5.08 Myr ago) fox, Vulpes qiuzhudingi new species, from the Himalaya (Zanda Basin) and Kunlun Mountain (Kunlun Pass Basin) and the modern arctic fox Vulpes lagopus in the polar region. A highly hypercarnivorous dentition of the new fox bears a striking resemblance to that of V. lagopus and substantially predates the previous oldest records of the arctic fox by 3-4 Myr. The low latitude, high-altitude Tibetan Plateau is separated from the nearest modern arctic fox geographical range by at least 2000 km. The apparent connection between an ancestral high-elevation species and its modern polar descendant is consistent with our 'Out-of-Tibet' hypothesis postulating that high-altitude Tibet was a training ground for cold-environment adaptations well before the start of the Ice Age. © 2014 The Authors Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.


Tseng Z.J.,University of Southern California | Tseng Z.J.,American Museum of Natural History | Wang X.,University of Southern California | Wang X.,American Museum of Natural History | And 7 more authors.
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences | Year: 2014

Pantherine felids ('big cats') include the largest living cats, apex predators in their respective ecosystems. They are also the earliest diverging living cat lineage, and thus are important for understanding the evolution of all subsequent felid groups.Although the oldest pantherine fossils occur inAfrica,molecular phylogenies point to Asia as their region of origin. This paradox cannot be reconciled using current knowledge, mainly because early big cat fossils are exceedingly rare and fragmentary. Here, we report the discovery of a fossil pantherine from the Tibetan Himalaya, with an age of LateMiocene-Early Pliocene, replacing African records as the oldest pantherine. A 'total evidence' phylogenetic analysis of pantherines indicates that the new cat is closely related to the snow leopard and exhibits intermediate characteristics on the evolutionary line to the largest cats. Historical biogeographic models provide robust support for the Asian origin of pantherines. The combined analyses indicate that 75% of the divergence events in the pantherine lineage extended back to the Miocene, up to 7 Myr earlier than previously estimated. The deeper evolutionary origin of big cats revealed by the new fossils and analyses indicate a close association between Tibetan Plateau uplift and diversification of the earliest living cats. © 2013 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.


PubMed | Gansu Provincial Museum, CAS Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, University of California at Los Angeles and California Academy of Sciences
Type: Journal Article | Journal: PloS one | Year: 2013

A shortage of Cenozoic vertebrate fossils in the Tibetan Plateau has been an obstacle in our understanding of biological evolution in response to changes in tectonism, topography, and environment. This is especially true for Paleogene records, so far known by only two sites along the northern rim of the Plateau. We report a Hongyazi Basin in northern Tibetan Plateau that produces at least three mammalian faunas that span Oligocene through late Miocene. Located at the foothills of the Danghe Nanshan and presently connected to the northern margin of the Suganhu Basin through the Greater Haltang River, the intermountain basin is controlled by the tectonics of the Danghe Nanshan to the north and Chahanebotu Mountain to the south, making the basin sediments well suited for inferring the evolutionary history of these two mountain ranges. At the bottom of the local section, the Oligocene Haltang Fauna is best compared to the early Oligocene Desmatolagus-Karakoromys decessus assemblage in the Dingdanggou Fauna in Tabenbuluk Basin. The Middle Miocene Ebotu Fauna from the middle Hongyazi section shares many taxa with the late Middle Miocene Tunggur mammal assemblage in Inner Mongolia, such as Heterosminthus orientalis, Megacricetodon sinensis, Democricetodon lindsayi, and Alloptox gobiensis. Toward the top of the section, the Hongyazi Fauna includes late Miocene elements typical of Hipparion faunas of North China. All three faunas are of typical North China-Central Asian characteristics, suggesting a lack of geographic barriers for faunal differentiation through the late Miocene. Sedimentary packages producing these faunas are arrayed from north to south in progressively younger strata, consistent with a compressive regime to accommodate shortening between Danghe Nanshan and Chahanebotu Mountain by thrust faults and folds. With additional constraints from vertebrate fossils along the northern flanks of the Danghe Nanshan, an eastward propagation of the Danghe Nanshan is postulated.


PubMed | Gansu Provincial Museum, CAS Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, University of Southern California and The George C. Page Museum
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Proceedings. Biological sciences | Year: 2014

The third pole of the world is a fitting metaphor for the Himalayan-Tibetan Plateau, in allusion to its vast frozen terrain, rivalling the Arctic and Antarctic, at high altitude but low latitude. Living Tibetan and arctic mammals share adaptations to freezing temperatures such as long and thick winter fur in arctic muskox and Tibetan yak, and for carnivorans, a more predatory niche. Here, we report, to our knowledge, the first evolutionary link between an Early Pliocene (3.60-5.08 Myr ago) fox, Vulpes qiuzhudingi new species, from the Himalaya (Zanda Basin) and Kunlun Mountain (Kunlun Pass Basin) and the modern arctic fox Vulpes lagopus in the polar region. A highly hypercarnivorous dentition of the new fox bears a striking resemblance to that of V. lagopus and substantially predates the previous oldest records of the arctic fox by 3-4 Myr. The low latitude, high-altitude Tibetan Plateau is separated from the nearest modern arctic fox geographical range by at least 2000 km. The apparent connection between an ancestral high-elevation species and its modern polar descendant is consistent with our Out-of-Tibet hypothesis postulating that high-altitude Tibet was a training ground for cold-environment adaptations well before the start of the Ice Age.


PubMed | Gansu Industrial Occupational Technology College, Gansu Provincial Museum, Rio de Janeiro State Federal University, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and Tianjin Museum of Natural History
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Anais da Academia Brasileira de Ciencias | Year: 2016

The Yanghecun specimen, a proboscidean specimen represented by a mandible from Miocene of China and previously described as Gomphotheriidae, is here reviewed and described as a new genus and species of Mammutidae: Sinomammut tobieni. This taxon is a longirostrine mastodon, lacking lower tusks, and bearing a wide last molar with oblique and non-inflated lophids, broad transverse interlophids, and yoke-like wear figures. Phylogenetic analysis of Mammutidae based on dental and mandibular features recovered S. tobieni as sister group of the mastodon Mammut. The longirostrine condition and the well-developed lower incisors seem to be primitive for Mammutidae, while the brevirostry is the derived condition, probably emerged during the middle Miocene (12-11 Mya). However, two derived conditions are recognized to the lower tusks: the absence of lower tusks (S. tobieni) and the occasional presence of vestigial lower tusks (Mammut).

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