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 GSA Today, v. 9, no. 9, September 1999


Table of Contents

Science Article: (View Abstract)
Does Climatic Change Drive Mammalian Evolution?
by Donald R. Prothero

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In Memoriam 2
Dialogue 3
Tributes Honor Halbouty for 90th Birthday 7
Earth Science Week 8
Notice of Council Meeting 9
Washington Report — Meet Charles Groat, Part 2 10
GSA Section Meetings 11
GSA Division News 12
Book Reviews 13
GSA Names New Congressional Science Fellow 15
1999 Annual Meeting – Denver: Pardee Keynote Symposia 16
Graduate School Information Forum 17
Technical Session Program Calendar 18
Short Courses 25
2000 South-Central Section Meeting 27
2000 Northeastern Section Meeting 28
2000 Southeastern Section Meeting 29
GSAF Update 30
GSA's 1999 Research Grant Awards 32
Bulletin and Geology Contents 35
Calendar 36
Classifieds 36

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Does Climatic Change Drive Mammalian Evolution?
Donald R. Prothero, Department of Geology, Occidental College, Los Angeles, CA 90041

Neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory argues that species and faunas are exquisitely adapted to their environment and should respond when their habitat changes. To test this hypothesis, the mammalian response to four of the largest climatic events of the Cenozoic (as documented by the marine record, oxygen isotopes, land plants, and other climatically sensitive organisms) are examined. These events occurred during the global cooling at the end of the middle Eocene (37 Ma), the cooling and drying event in the earliest Oligocene (33 Ma), the spread of C4 grasslands in the late Miocene (7 Ma), and the rapid climatic fluctuations of the Pliocene-Pleistocene (2.5 Ma to present). In each case, there is relatively little short-term response of the mammalian fauna. Typically, there is greater turnover millions of years before and after the time of climatic change than during the climatic event itself. This pattern suggests that the climatic control on mammalian evolution is much more complex than previously supposed, or that intrinsic biotic controls may be more important than extrinsic environmental controls.

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