William E. Holt, PhD, a professor of geophysics at Stony Brook University, is leading a research project to examine the interplay between the evolution of the landscape, climate, and fossil record of mammal evolution and diversification in the western United States.
The revolutionary 3D model demonstrates the relationship between climate and tectonics by simulating the landscape and the region’s history of erosion and deposition before, during, and after the formation of metamorphic core complexes.
Their model showed a statistical link between a major peak in mammal diversification and a peak in the extensional collapse of ancient mountain belts. The collaborative study is the first of its kind to quantify how deep Earth forces combine with climate to influence the landscape and impact mammal diversification and species dispersal within the fossil record.
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— Edited by Viyang Hao ’26