Latest Middle Miocene fauna and flora from Kumkol Basin of northern Qinghai-Xizang Plateau and paleoenvironment

  • Qiang LiEmail author
  • Xinying Zhou
  • Xijun NiEmail author
  • Bihong Fu
  • Tao Deng
Reaearch Paper


We report 7 mammalian and 16 pollen species from the top of the Shimagou Formation in Kumkol Basin of northern Qinghai-Xizang Plateau, whose age is latest Middle Miocene (about 12.5 Ma). We erect a new species of fossil rodent, Spermophilinus kumkolensis sp. nov. The micromammalian fauna from the Kumkol Basin shares high similarities with contemporary faunas from Europe and northern China, indicating the existence of active zoogeographic exchange between Europe and northern Asia. Trees are dominant in pollen fossils, and herbs and shrubs are minorities. Broadleaved Quercus and Fagus predominate in tree pollens. The flora reconstructed by pollens displays a mixture of evergreen broadleaved forest and dry and warm steppe landscape. Compared to the modern vegetation in Yunnan region, the latest Middle Miocene flora in the Kumkol Basin represents a distinct vertical distribution. The ecotypes of the latest Middle Miocene fauna and flora in the Kumkol Basin, as a whole, are markedly different from those of modern animals and vegetation, the past climate being more suitable than today.


Qinghai-Xizang Plateau Kumkol Basin Latest Middle Miocene Micromammals Pollen 


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We gratefully acknowledge all the field personnel during four filed seasons over the past years. We are deeply indebted to the following individuals: Dr. Miao Yunfa from the CAREERI, Dr. Shi Pilong, Dr. Xue Guoliang and Dr. Ma Yuanxu from the CEODE of the CAS, and Dr. Lu Haijian from the IG of the CAGS. We also would like to express our gratitude to Prof. Qiu Zhuding, Prof. Wu Wenyu, Dr. Lu Xiaoyu and Dr. Yang Yangheshan for their valuable discussion of the identification for rodents. We thank Dr. Wang Xiaoming from the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County for his critique of our manuscript. This work was supported by the Strategic Priority Research Program of Chinese Academy of Sciences (Grant Nos. XDB26030304, XDB26030300, XDA20070203 & XDA19050100) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 41625005).


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Vertebrate Evolution and Human Origins, Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and PaleoanthropologyChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.CAS Center for Excellence in Life and PaleoenvironmentBeijingChina
  3. 3.CAS Center for Excellence in Tibetan Plateau Earth SciencesBeijingChina
  4. 4.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  5. 5.Institute of Remote Sensing and Digital EarthChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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