Chinese Bulletin of Botany ›› 2022, Vol. 57 ›› Issue (1): 127-137.DOI: 10.11983/CBB21117

• SPECIAL TOPICS • Previous Articles    

The Vegetation, Climate and Early Human Habitat Changes in the Nihewan Basin, North China: a Review

Yun Zhu1,3, Xianguo Qiao2, Yifeng Yao1,3,*(), Yufei Wang1,3,*()   

  1. 1State Key Laboratory of Systematic and Evolutionary Botany, Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100093, China
    2State Key Laboratory of Vegetation and Environmental Change, Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100093, China
    3University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2021-07-13 Accepted:2021-12-17 Online:2022-01-01 Published:2022-01-17
  • Contact: Yifeng Yao,Yufei Wang


Nihewan Basin in North China is endowed with ‘the Olduvai Gorge in East Africa'. Both basins have a similar geological evolution with well-developed fluvial and lacustrine deposits, rich fossil and a large number of remains of early humans. Undoubtedly, it is a key area to study the changes of habitats of early humans in East Asia. Compiling the literatures, we sketched the changes in vegetation, climate and early human habitats in the Nihewan Basin since the late Pliocene and noticed that the first vegetation shift from broad-leaved forest to coniferous forest occurred at ~2.6 Ma (Mega annum); the second important change of vegetation succession occurred at about 1.92 Ma. After that time, the vegetation was mainly temperate forest-steppe (covering Pinus, Artemisia, Chenopodiaceae)/temperate steppe (mainly Artemisia and Poaceae). By comparison, it is found that the vegetation change from forest to forest-steppe appeared gradually from west to central throughout northern China since the late Pliocene. In addition, at least 13 cold-warm cycles and 15 dry-wet cycles were recorded. Significant cold-dry events occurred at 2.8 Ma, 2.6 Ma, 1.92 Ma, and 143.8 ka (kilo annum), while humid events took place at 43, 32, and 6.6 ka. Early humans lived in forest-steppe or steppe environment with rich water resources where cold-warm and dry-wet climate fluctuated periodically, and co-existed with other mammals. In the future, under the chronological framework of establishing a more fine stratum of Nihewan human site, quantitative research on temperature and precipitation parameters of paleoclimate will benifit accurate reconstruction of the habitat of hominins and reflection of the law of change.

Key words: early human, Nihewan, paleoenvironment, palynology, Quaternary