The mid-Miocene Zhangpu biota reveals an outstandingly rich rainforest biome in East Asia

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Science Advances  30 Apr 2021:
Vol. 7, no. 18, eabg0625
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abg0625


During the Mid-Miocene Climatic Optimum [MMCO, ~14 to 17 million years (Ma) ago], global temperatures were similar to predicted temperatures for the coming century. Limited megathermal paleoclimatic and fossil data are known from this period, despite its potential as an analog for future climate conditions. Here, we report a rich middle Miocene rainforest biome, the Zhangpu biota (~14.7 Ma ago), based on material preserved in amber and associated sedimentary rocks from southeastern China. The record shows that the mid-Miocene rainforest reached at least 24.2°N and was more widespread than previously estimated. Our results not only highlight the role of tropical rainforests acting as evolutionary museums for biodiversity at the generic level but also suggest that the MMCO probably strongly shaped the East Asian biota via the northern expansion of the megathermal rainforest biome. The Zhangpu biota provides an ideal snapshot for biodiversity redistribution during global warming.

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