Researchers find that the Kangrinboqê Basin in southwest China's Tibet was less than 3000 meters in altitude more than 20 million years ago through the analysis of plant fossils, according to the Nanjing Geology and Paleontology Institute of Chinese Academy of Sciences.
In this study, the team has found for the first time a well-preserved cluster of prehistoric plant fossils. Fossil analysis shows that these plant fossils are 23 million years old, including cottonwood trees, legumes, pine trees, and other vegetation types, which indicates that 23 million years ago, the area was covered by a broadleaved deciduous forest.
By comparing similar plant clusters’ current and past living conditions, the research team has concluded that 23 million years ago, the Kangrinboqê Basin didn’t have its current state of high altitude, cold temperature, and dry conditions. During that time, the area’s altitude was between 1500 to 2900 meters, and with a milder and warmer climate. After that period, the area’s altitude continued to rise, with the broadleaved deciduous forest changing to the current plateau pastures.
“Understanding the Kangrinboqê Basin is a critical part for understanding the history of southern Qinghai-Tibet Plateau’s uplift. A comprehensive understanding of Qinghai-Tibet Plateau’s uplift and how and when it uplifted is crucial for understanding the earth’s structural revolution, and its impact on all organisms including humans.” Said Shi Gongle, an associate researcher with the Nanjing Geology and Paleontology Institute of Chinese Academy of Sciences, and a member of the study.
Related research results have been recently published in Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, an international geology journal.