climate chang; hominin evolution; Pleistocene; Lantian Basin of Central China; land surface temoerature
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Climate change and hominin evolution are inextricably linked. Pleistocene climate variability, for example, is thought to have had major influences on hominin morphology, brain size, and diversity. However, clear cause-and-effect relationships between specific climatic events and major evolutionary occurrences are difficult to establish due to temporal and spatial gaps in paleoclimatic, paleoenvironmental, and archaeological records. A new branched GDGT paleotemperature record from the Lantian Basin of Central China (Lu et al., 2022), a location known for the earliest hominin presence in East Asia, illustrates warm land surface temperatures over a two-million-year period between 2.6 and 0.6 Ma, a critical time in human evolution. Warmer temperatures may have increased land-sea thermal contrast that facilitated the long-term intensification of the East Asian summer monsoon, and likely had serious ecological and biological implications for Pleistocene hominin lineages.