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No high Tibetan Plateau until the Neogene

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Article numbereaav2189
Number of pages8
JournalScience Advances
Volume5
Issue number3
DOIs
DateAccepted/In press - 25 Jan 2019
DatePublished (current) - 6 Mar 2019

Abstract

The Late Paleogene surface height and paleoenvironment for the core area of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau (QTP) remain critically unresolved. Here, we report the discovery of the youngest well-preserved fossil palm leaves from Tibet. They were recovered from the Late Paleogene (Chattian), ca. 25.5 ± 0.5 million years, paleolake sediments within the Lunpola Basin (32.033°N, 89.767°E), central QTP at a present elevation of 4655 m. The anatomy of palms renders them intrinsically susceptible to freezing, imposing upper bounds on their latitudinal and altitudinal distribution. Combined with model-determined paleoterrestrial lapse rates, this shows that a high plateau cannot have existed in the core of Tibet in the Paleogene. Instead, a deep paleovalley, whose floor was <2.3 km above mean sea level bounded by (>4 km) high mountain systems, formed a topographically highly varied landscape. This finding challenges prevailing views on tectonic processes, monsoon dynamics, and the evolution of Asian biodiversity.

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    Rights statement: This is the final published version of the article (version of record). It first appeared online via AAAS at http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/5/3/eaav2189 . Please refer to any applicable terms of use of the publisher.

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