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Title

RESEARCH ARTICLE Body-size structure of Central Iberian mammal fauna reveals semidesertic conditions during the middle Miocene Global Cooling Event

AuthorsMenéndez, Iris; Gómez Cano, Ana R. ; García Yelo, Blanca A. ; Domingo, M. Soledad; Cantalapiedra, Juan L. ; Blanco, Fernando; Hernández Fernández, Manuel
Issue Date2017
PublisherPublic Library of Science
CitationPLoS ONE, 12(10):e0186762. (2017)
AbstractWe developed new quantitative palaeoclimatic inference models based on the body-size structure of mammal faunas from the Old World tropics and applied them to the Somosaguas fossil site (middle Miocene, central Iberian Peninsula). Twenty-six mammal species have been described at this site, including proboscideans, ungulates, carnivores, insectivores, lagomorphs and rodents. Our analyses were based on multivariate and bivariate regression models correlating climatic data and body-size structure of 63 modern mammal assemblages from Sub-Saharan Africa and the Indian subcontinent. The results showed an average temperature of the coldest month higher than 26ÊC for the Somosaguas fossil site, a mean annual thermal amplitude around 10ÊC, a drought length of 10 months, and an annual total precipitation greater than 200 mm per year, which are climate conditions typical of an ecotonal zone between the savanna and desert biomes. These results are congruent with the aridity peaks described over the middle Aragonian of Spain and particularly in the local biozone E, which includes Somosaguas. The aridity increase detected in this biozone is associated with the Middle Miocene Global Cooling Event. The environment of Somosaguas around 14 Ma was similar to the current environment in the Sahel region of North Africa, the Horn of Africa, the boundary area between the Kalahari and the Namib in Southern Africa, south-central Arabia, or eastern Pakistan and northwestern India. The distribution of modern vegetation in these regions follows a complex mosaic of plant communities, dominated by scattered xerophilous shrublands, semidesert grasslands, and vegetation linked to seasonal watercourses and ponds.
Publisher version (URL)https://doi.org/ 10.1371/journal.pone.0186762
URIhttp://hdl.handle.net/10261/157235
DOI10.1371/journal.pone.0186762
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