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Lanzhou, China

Li Q.,CAS Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology | Xie G.,Gansu Provincial Museum | Takeuchi G.T.,The George C. Page Museum | Deng T.,CAS Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology | And 7 more authors.
Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology | Year: 2014

The Kunlun Pass Basin, at the foothill of Yuzhu Mountain (6224. m. asl and the highest peak of the Kunlun Range), records Plio-Pleistocene fine-grained sediments sandwiched between glacial moraines. We document a new vertebrate fossil assemblage, the Yuzhu Fauna, with 16 mammal and 2 fish species that provide insights into basin chronology as well as the paleoenvironment adjacent to alpine glaciations in the Pliocene, in which the mammals and fishes lived. The Yuzhu Fauna consists of the following eight small mammals: Petenyia sp., Aepyosciurus sp., Nannocricetus mongolicus, cf. Orientalomys sinensis, Mimomys n. sp., Prosiphneus cf. P. eriksoni, Ochotona minor, Ochotona cf. O. lagreli, and eight large mammals: Rhinocerotidae indet., Hipparion (Proboscidipparion) pater, Qurliqnoria sp., Bovidae indet., cf. Panthera blytheae, Hyaeninae indet., Vulpes qiuzhudingi, and aff. Arctomeles sp. Two cyprinid fishes are also included: Gymnocypris sp. and Triplophysa sp. The Yuzhu Fauna has a distinctly early-middle Pliocene appearance, substantially earlier than previous age estimates, sharing broad similarities with vertebrate fossil assemblages from North China in general and the Zanda Fauna in southern Tibet in particular, including three carnivorans (Vulpes qiuzhudingi, cf. Panthera blytheae, and aff. Arctomeles sp.), one artiodactyl (Qurliqnoria), and at least two rodents (Aepyosciurus and Prosiphneus) and a lagomorph (Ochotona). We re-interpret published magnetostratigraphy to arrive at a correlation of the Yuzhu Fauna to the lower part of Chron 2Ar (Gilbert Chron 4.2-3.6. Ma), and the entire basin sequence spanning part of chrons 1n through 3n.3n, i.e., ~ 4.9-0.5 Ma. Our revised magnetic age for the Kunlun Pass Basin strata implies a slip rate of 7.2-6.1 mm/year along this part of the Kunlun Pass strike-slip fault system, much slower than its modern rate of off set. © 2014 Elsevier B.V.

Wang X.,Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County | Wang X.,CAS Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology | Wang X.,Nanjing University | Wang X.,American Museum of Natural History | And 2 more authors.
Quaternary International | Year: 2015

The "out of Tibet" hypothesis envisions late Cenozoic Tibetan mammals acquiring adaptations to cold environments and being ancestral to several Eurasian megafaunal species in the Pleistocene. Here we report an early record of a hypercarnivorous canid, Sinicuon cf. Sinicuon dubius, from Zanda Basin in the Himalaya Range. Although the new record is recovered from reworked sediments in a Pleistocene alluvium, we can constrain the fossil to within a narrow age range of 3.8-3.4Ma in the middle Pliocene. Presence of this hypercarnivorous canid in the Pliocene of Tibet, along with the recently described pantherine cat and arctic fox, suggests a predator guild with predominately carnivorous diet characteristic of modern arctic carnivorans such as the arctic fox and polar bear. Wintering in extremely cold climates may have been the cause of such adaptations. Sinicuon shows transitional morphology to modern hypercarnivorous hunting dogs in southern Asia (Cuon), suggesting linkage of the high Tibetan Plateau to the southern continents. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA.

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.

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.

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.

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