Changing surface ocean circulation caused the local demise of echinoid Scaphechinus mirabilis in Taiwan during the Pleistocene–Holocene transition

Abundant fossil specimens of Scaphechinus mirabilis, now occurring mostly in temperate waters, have been found in the Toukoshan Formation (Pleistocene) in Miaoli County, Taiwan. Environmental changes leading to its extirpation (local extinction) have thus far been elusive. Here, we reconstruct past environmental and oceanic conditions off northwest Taiwan by analyzing clumped isotopes, as well as stable oxygen isotopes, of well-preserved fossil echinoid tests collected from the Toukoshan Formation. Radiocarbon dates suggest that these samples are from Marine Isotope Stage 3 (MIS 3). Paleotemperature estimates based on clumped isotopes indicate that fossil echinoids were living in oceanic conditions that range from 9 to 14 °C on average, comparable with the estimate derived for a modern sample from Mutsu Bay, Japan. Notably, this temperature range is ~ 10 °C colder than today’s conditions off …

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