“A quantitative paleoclimatic reconstruction of the non-analogue environment of oxygen isotope stage 3: new data from small mammal records of southwestern Germany”

New article published by Sara E. Rhodes & Nicholas J. Conard in Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences.

Ensuring comparability between results is a key goal of all paleoecological reconstructions. Quantitative estimates of meteorological variables, as opposed to relative qualitative descriptions, provide the opportunity to compare local paleoenvironmental records against global estimates and incrementally build regional paleoclimatic records. The Bioclimatic Method provides quantitative and qualitative estimates of past landscape composition and climate along with measures of statistical accuracy by applying linear discriminant functions analysis and transfer functions to faunal taxonomic abundance data. By applying this method to the rodent data from Geißenklösterle and Hohle Fels, two Paleolithic cave sites located in the Ach Valley of southwestern Germany, we classify the regional vegetation according to Walters’ zonobiome model. We also present new estimates of meteorological variables including mean annual temperature, mean annual precipitation, and vegetative activity period of the Ach Valley for the period spanning ~ 60,000 to 35,000 cal BP. The results suggest the Ach Valley contained a non-analogous landscape of arctic tundra and temperate deciduous woodland with occasional arid steppe expansion. Meteorological estimates suggest the climate was significantly colder during the Middle and Upper Paleolithic than today, with higher annual precipitation and dramatic temperature shifts between seasons. These results fit well with climatic reconstructions from Switzerland and the Netherlands based on a variety of proxies. They also provide further evidence of a localized climatic response within southwestern Germany to the stadial-interstadial shifts preceding the Heinrich 4 event. Finally, these results reinforce our previous claims that climatic volatility was not a driving force in the loss of Neanderthal groups throughout the Swabian Jura during OIS 3.

More info: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12520-021-01363-8

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