These new data demonstrate that the evolution of global climate during the middle Miocene (as reflected by changes in the cyrosphere) was well correlated to variations in the concentration of atmospheric CO during the MCO were relatively modest (350–400 ppm) and levels either side of the MCO are similar or lower than the pre-industrial (200–260 ppm).
The papers in this volume show that much progress has been made in our chronological knowledge of significant aspects of the transition, such as the age of the most recent Neandertal fossils and the earliest modern human remains in Europe, and the inferred overlap between the Châtelperronian and the Aurignacian.
At the same time, the volume also shows where the chronological database for the period 40 to 30 ka C BP is flawed and that significant contextual and methodological problems have been underestimated in a number of studies of the biological and cultural changes during this crucial period.
Recent drilling on the Antarctic margin and shore based studies indicate significant retreat and advance beyond the modern limits of the AIS did occur during the middle Miocene, but the complete loss of the AIS was unlikely.
Consequently, it seems that ice volume and climate variations during the middle Miocene probably involved a more dynamic AIS than the modern but also some component of land-based ice in the northern hemisphere.
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Chronology is employed by paleoanthropologists to relate the record of the Middle to Upper Paleolithic transition to major biological and cultural developments.
This paper takes a broader paleoanthropological perspective and attempts to evaluate and, to some degree, synthesize the main results of these proceedings, while also presenting a brief discussion of the Middle and Upper Paleolithic archaeological and fossil records, and possible explanations for the differences between the two, focusing on the role of differences in the ecology of Neandertals and early European modern humans.
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