Molecules in mud: Reconstructing Neogene Hominid Environments from Molecular Biomarkers in Terrestrial and Marine Sediments
In this talk, I will present isotopic evidence that shows C4 grasslands spread across Africa in the late Miocene. Prior to the appearance of C4 grasses at ~10 Ma, isotopic methods for differentiating grasses and woody vegetation are not useful because both plant functional types utilized the C3 photosynthetic pathway. To address this challenge, new methods are needed to explore the history of grassland evolution in Africa.
I will describe emerging techniques for reconstructing past ecosystems, including vegetation and fire—the latter of which plays a key role in maintaining modern grasslands—using non-isotopic methods. These new biomarkers approaches, combined with existing isotopic methods, can be used to reconstruct the rise of grasslands in Africa and explore the relationships between climate, ecosystem, and evolutionary change.
Host: Bronwen KoneckyRegister to Attend via Zoom