To establish a timescale for more than 10 million years ago

The timescale is the base to reconstruct the history of the Earth and the biological evolution. A research on a chronostratigraphic sequence of the Chinese Neogene with accurate geological datings was published online in Science China: Earth Sciences.

The Chinese Neogene terrestrial deposits are widely exposed. In the Linxia Basin of Gansu Province, for example, there are continuous deposits from Oligocene to Pleistocene, covering complete Neogene period and bearing rich mammalian fossils (Fig. 1). The rapidly evolved mammalian fossils contribute efficiently to the division and correlation of Neogene strata. A uniform Neogene biostratigraphic framework for China has already been established, with seven mammalian ages named. With a developed stratigraphic basis for the geochronologic ?ages?, seven chronostratigraphic ?stage? have been established for the Chinese Neogene terrestrial strata, namely the Miocene Xiejian (Fig. 2), Shanwangian, Tunggurian, Bahean, and Baodean stages, and the Pliocene Gaozhuangian and Mazegouan stages.

- Advertisement -

Based on a series of research achievements, refined biostratigraphic, paleomagnetic and isotopic methods were combined and applied to continuous sections, and a Chinese Neogene chronostratigraphic sequence with accurate geological ages was established and improved by the research team of Prof. Deng Tao at the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Chinese Academy of Sciences in recent years, which was published online as “Neogene integrative stratigraphy and timescale of China” in Science China: Earth Sciences.

This is an image of the comprehensive column section at Xiejia of the Xining Basin, Qinghai Province. CREDIT ©Science China Press

In Eurasia, Chinese Neogene deposits are more suitable for the establishment of an accurate Neogene biostratigraphic sequence than those of Europe, since the terrestrial deposits in Europe often limited, and many important faunas are unearthed from fissure-fillings. Chinese Neogene deposits are widespread and well suited for magnetostratigraphic analysis, despite the few radiometric dates available. The lower boundaries of most of the stages could be correlated with those of the marine stages in the International Chronostratigraphic Chart, except the Tunggurian Stage, which is correlated with the European land mammal age. The biostratigraphic markers of the Chinese Neogene stages are usually first appearance of a single taxon, some representing regional species replacement, others indicating intercontinental migration of certain taxa. For instance, the lower boundaries of the two Upper Miocene stages, Bahean and Baodean have the first appearances of Hipparion dongxiangense and H. forstenae (Fig. 3) as biostratigraphic markers, respectively, and the geological ages of their lower boundaries are corresponding to those of the marine Tortonian (11.63 Ma) and Messinian (7.25 Ma).

The Chinese Neogene mammalian biostratigraphic divisions have become the core to establish the Asian framework. Candidate stratotype sections have been proposed for all the Chinese Neogene stages according to the principle and rule of modern stratigraphy, and other Chinese Neogene strata in different regions are comprehensively correlated.


- Advertisement -

Header Image Credit: This is an image of an upper jaw fossil and a reconstruction of Hipparion forstenae (art by Chen Yu). ©Science China Press

- Advertisement -
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan is multi-award-winning journalist and the Managing Editor at HeritageDaily. His background is in archaeology and computer science, having written over 7,500 articles across several online publications. Mark is a member of the Association of British Science Writers (ABSW), the World Federation of Science Journalists, and in 2023 was the recipient of the British Citizen Award for Education, the BCA Medal of Honour, and the UK Prime Minister's Points of Light Award.

Mobile Application


Related Articles

Archaeologists uncover 4,200-year-old “zombie grave”

Archaeologists from the State Office for Monument Preservation and Archaeology Saxony-Anhalt have uncovered a "zombie grave" during excavations near Oppin, Germany.

Archaeologists uncover 2,000-year-old clay token used by pilgrims

A clay token unearthed by the Temple Mount Sifting Project, is believed to have served pilgrims exchanging offerings during the Passover festival 2,000-years-ago.

Moon may have influenced Stonehenge construction

A study by a team of archaeoastronomers are investigating the possible connection of the moon in influencing the Stonehenge builders.

Archaeologists explore the resettlement history of the Iron-Age metropolis of Tel Hazor

Archaeologists are conducting a study of the Iron-Age metropolis of Tel Hazor to understand how one of the largest “megacities” of the Bronze Age was abandoned and then resettled.

Excavation uncovers possible traces of Villa Augustus at Somma Vesuviana

Archaeologists from the University of Tokyo have uncovered further evidence of the Villa of Augustus during excavations at Somma Vesuviana.

Study reveals new insights into wreck of royal flagship Gribshunden

Underwater archaeologists from Södertörn University, in collaboration with the CEMAS/Institute for Archaeology and Ancient Culture at Stockholm University, have conducted an investigation of the wreck of the royal flagship Gribshunden.

Microbe X-32 – Is the Plasticene Era coming to an end?

Breaking, a new venture in collaboration with Harvard and the Wyss Institute, is claiming that a new discovery, Microbe X-32, can naturally break down polyolefins, polyesters, and polyamides in just 22 months.

Stone sphere among artefacts repatriated to Costa Rica

395 pre-Columbian artefacts have been repatriated to Costa Rica thanks to a grant by the United States Embassy to the Cultural Agreements Fund.