Plio-Pleistocene environmental variability in Africa and its implications for mammalian evolution

Andrew S. Cohen, Andrew Du, John Rowan, Chad L. Yost, Anne L. Billingsley, Christopher J. Campisano, Erik T. Brown, Alan L. Deino, Craig S. Feibel, Katharine Grant, John D. Kingston, Rachel L. Lupien, Veronica Muiruri, R. Bernhart Owen, Kaye E. Reed, James Russell, Mona Stockhecke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


SignificanceWe have developed an Africa-wide synthesis of paleoenvironmental variability over the Plio-Pleistocene. We show that there is strong evidence for orbital forcing of variability during this time that is superimposed on a longer trend of increasing environmental variability, supporting a combination of both low- and high-latitude drivers of variability. We combine these results with robust estimates of mammalian speciation and extinction rates and find that variability is not significantly correlated with these rates. These findings do not currently support a link between environmental variability and turnover and thus fail to corroborate predictions derived from the variability selection hypothesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e2107393119
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number16
StatePublished - Apr 19 2022


  • Africa
  • Plio-Pleistocene
  • mammalian evolution
  • paleoclimate
  • variability selection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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