Linking continental collisions, climate change, and past mammalian dispersions in the Middle East
Context: During the Paleogene, the mammalian fossil record indicates several discrete dispersal events between Africa and Eurasia along the Tethyan Oceanic margins, some of them involving the earliest anthropoid primates. So far, the polarity, the exact timing, and the causes of these dispersal events are poorly constrained despite their critical importance in the understanding of modern mammals early radiations. This project proposes to investigate the paleogeographical and paleoenvironmental conditions that favored those dispersions by focusing on key fossiliferous sites in central Anatolia, Turkey, at the biogeographic cross-roads between Afro-Arabia, Asia, and Europe. We first aim to reconstruct the paleogeographical evolution and collision chronology in the area, and use different paleoenvironmental proxies to date and understand the past environment associated with the migrating fauna. The results may highlight the tectonic and paleoclimatic triggers leading to the Paleogene mammalian migrations and consequent radiations. It may also provide a significant contribution to the quest for the common ancestor between the African and Asian anthropoid clades.
In the team: Megan Mueller (PhD student).
External collaborators: Chris Beard, Mike Taylor, Pauline Coster, Clay Campbell (Kansas University, USA), Faruk Ocakoglu (Eskisehir University, Turkey), Grégoire Métais (Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France), Mustafa Kaya (Potsdam Universität, Germany).