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0.774 – 0.129 Ma
Name formalityFormal
Name ratifiedJanuary 2020
Synonym(s)Middle Pleistocene
Usage information
Celestial bodyEarth
Regional usageGlobal (ICS)
Time scale(s) usedICS Time Scale
Chronological unitAge
Stratigraphic unitStage
Time span formalityFormal
Lower boundary definition1.1 m below the directional midpoint of the Brunhes-Matuyama magnetic reversal
Lower boundary GSSPChiba, Japan
35°17′39″N 140°08′47″E / 35.2943°N 140.1465°E / 35.2943; 140.1465
Lower GSSP ratifiedJanuary 2020[3]
Upper boundary definitionNot formally defined
Upper boundary definition candidatesMarine Isotope Substage 5e
Upper boundary GSSP candidate section(s)None

The Chibanian, widely known as the Middle Pleistocene, is an age in the international geologic timescale or a stage in chronostratigraphy, being a division of the Pleistocene Epoch within the ongoing Quaternary Period.[4] The Chibanian name was officially ratified in January 2020. It is currently estimated to span the time between 0.770 Ma (770,000 years ago) and 0.126 Ma (126,000 years ago), also expressed as 770–126 ka. It includes the transition in palaeoanthropology from the Lower to the Middle Paleolithic over 300 ka.

The Chibanian is preceded by the Calabrian and succeeded by the proposed Tarantian.[5] The beginning of the Chibanian is the Brunhes–Matuyama reversal, when the Earth's magnetic field last underwent reversal.[6] It ends with the onset of the Eemian interglacial period (Marine Isotope Stage 5).[7]

The term Middle Pleistocene was in use as a provisional or "quasi-formal" designation by the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS). While the three lowest ages of the Pleistocene, the Gelasian, Calabrian and Chibanian have been officially defined, the Late Pleistocene has yet to be formally defined, along with consideration of a proposed Anthropocene sub-division of the Holocene.[8]

Definition process[edit]

The International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS) had previously proposed replacement of the Middle Pleistocene by an Ionian Age based on strata found in Italy. In November 2017, however, the Chibanian (based on strata at a site in Chiba Prefecture, Japan) replaced the Ionian as the Subcommission on Quaternary Stratigraphy's preferred GSSP proposal for the age that should replace the Middle Pleistocene sub-epoch.[9] The "Chibanian" name was ratified by the IUGS in January 2020.[4]


By early Middle Pleistocene, the Mid-Pleistocene Transition had changed the glacial cycles from an average 41,000 year periodicity present during most of the Early Pleistocene to a 100,000 year periodicity,[10] with the glacial cycles becoming asymmetric, having long glacial periods punctuated by short warm interglacial periods.[11] Millennial-scale climatic variability continued to be highly sensitive to precession and obliquity cycles.[12]


The Early-Middle Pleistocene boundary saw the migration of true horses out of North America and into Eurasia.[13] Also around this time, the European mammoth species Mammuthus meridionalis became extinct and was replaced by the Asian species Mammuthus trogontherii (the steppe mammoth). This was coincident with the migration of the elephant genus Palaeoloxodon out of Africa and into Eurasia, including the first appearance of species like the European straight-tusked elephant (Palaeoloxodon antiquus).[14] With the extinction of Sinomastodon in East Asia at the Early-Middle Pleistocene boundary, gomphotheres became completely extinct in Afro-Eurasia,[15][16] but continued to persist in the Americas into the Late Pleistocene.[16] There was a major extinction of carnivorous mammals in Europe around the Early-Middle Pleistocene transition, including the giant hyena Pachycrocuta.[17] The mid-late Middle Pleistocene saw the emergence of the woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius), and its replacement of Mammuthus trogontherii, with the replacement of M. trogontherii in Europe by woolly mammoths being complete by around 200,000 years ago.[14][18] The last member of the notoungulate family Mesotheriidae, Mesotherium, has its last records around 220,000 years ago, leaving Toxodontidae as the sole family of notoungulates to persist into the Late Pleistocene.[19] During the late Middle Pleistocene, around 195,000-135,000 years ago, the steppe bison (the ancestor of the modern American bison) migrated across the Bering land bridge into North America, marking the beginning of the Rancholabrean faunal stage.[20] Around 500,000 years ago, the last members of the largely European aquatic frog genus Palaeobatrachus and by extension the family Palaeobatrachidae became extinct.[21]


The Chibanian includes the transition in palaeoanthropology from the Lower to the Middle Paleolithic: i.e., the emergence of Homo sapiens sapiens between 300 ka and 400 ka.[22] The oldest known human DNA dates to the Middle Pleistocene, around 430,000 years ago. This is the oldest found, as of 2016.[23]

After analyzing 2,496 remains of Castor fiber (Eurasian beaver) and Trogontherium cuvieri found at Bilzingsleben in Germany, a team of scientists concluded that, around 400 ka, hominids in the area hunted and exploited beavers. They may have been targeted for their meat (based on cut marks on the bones) and skin.[24]


Age paleoclimate glaciation palaeoanthropology
790–761 ka MIS 19 Günz (Elbe) glaciation Peking Man (Homo erectus)
761–712 ka MIS 18
712–676 ka MIS 17
676–621 ka MIS 16
621–563 ka MIS 15 Gunz-Haslach interglacial Heidelberg Man (Homo heidelbergensis), Bodo cranium
563–524 ka MIS 14
524–474 ka MIS 13 end of Cromerian (Günz-Mindel) interglacial Boxgrove Man (Homo heidelbergensis)
474–424 ka MIS 12 Anglian Stage in Britain; Haslach glaciation Tautavel Man (Homo erectus)
424–374 ka MIS 11 Hoxnian (Britain), Yarmouthian (North America) Swanscombe Man (Homo heidelbergensis)
374–337 ka MIS 10 Mindel glaciation, Elster glaciation, Riss glaciation
337–300 ka MIS 9 Purfleet Interglacial in Britain Mousterian
300–243 ka MIS 8 Irhoud 1 (Homo sapiens); Middle Paleolithic; Haplogroup A (Y-DNA)
243–191 ka MIS 7 Aveley Interglacial in Britain Galilee Man; Haua Fteah
191–130 ka MIS 6 Illinoian Stage Herto Man (Homo sapiens); Macro-haplogroup L (mtDNA); Mousterian
130–123 ka MIS 5e peak of Eemian interglacial sub-stage, or Ipswichian in Britain Klasies River Caves; Sangoan

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Cohen, K. M.; Finney, S. C.; Gibbard, P. L.; Fan, J.-X. (January 2020). "International Chronostratigraphic Chart" (PDF). International Commission on Stratigraphy. Retrieved 23 February 2020.
  2. ^ Mike Walker; et al. (December 2018). "Formal ratification of the subdivision of the Holocene Series/Epoch (Quaternary System/Period)" (PDF). Episodes. Subcommission on Quaternary Stratigraphy (SQS). 41 (4): 213–223. doi:10.18814/epiiugs/2018/018016. Retrieved 11 November 2019.
  3. ^ "Global Boundary Stratotype Section and Point". International Commission of Stratigraphy. Retrieved 26 December 2020.
  4. ^ a b Hornyak, Tim (30 January 2020). "Japan Puts Its Mark on Geologic Time with the Chibanian Age". Eos – Earth & Space Science News. American Geophysical Union. Retrieved 31 January 2020.
  5. ^ Cohen, K. M.; Finney, S. C.; Gibbard, P. L.; Fan, J.-X. (January 2020). "International Chronostratigraphic Chart" (PDF). International Commission on Stratigraphy. Retrieved 23 February 2020.
  6. ^ Gradstein, Felix M.; Ogg, James G.; Smith, Alan G., eds. (2004). A Geological Time Scale 2004 (3rd ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 28. ISBN 9780521786737.
  7. ^ D. Dahl-Jensen & others (2013). "Eemian interglacial reconstructed from a Greenland folded ice core" (PDF). Nature. 493 (7433): 489–494. Bibcode:2013Natur.493..489N. doi:10.1038/nature11789. PMID 23344358. S2CID 4420908.
  8. ^ P. L. Gibbard (17 April 2015). "The Quaternary System/Period and its major sub-divisions". Russian Geology and Geophysics. Special Issue: Topical Problems of Stratigraphy and Evolution of the Biosphere. Elsevier BV. 56 (4): 686–688. Bibcode:2015RuGG...56..686G. doi:10.1016/j.rgg.2015.03.015. Retrieved 13 November 2019.
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  10. ^ Berends, C. J.; Köhler, P.; Lourens, L. J.; van de Wal, R. S. W. (June 2021). "On the Cause of the Mid-Pleistocene Transition". Reviews of Geophysics. 59 (2). Bibcode:2021RvGeo..5900727B. doi:10.1029/2020RG000727. hdl:1874/412413. ISSN 8755-1209. S2CID 236386405.
  11. ^ Chalk, Thomas B.; Hain, Mathis P.; Foster, Gavin L.; Rohling, Eelco J.; Sexton, Philip F.; Badger, Marcus P. S.; Cherry, Soraya G.; Hasenfratz, Adam P.; Haug, Gerald H.; Jaccard, Samuel L.; Martínez-García, Alfredo; Pälike, Heiko; Pancost, Richard D.; Wilson, Paul A. (2017-12-12). "Causes of ice age intensification across the Mid-Pleistocene Transition". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 114 (50): 13114–13119. Bibcode:2017PNAS..11413114C. doi:10.1073/pnas.1702143114. ISSN 0027-8424. PMC 5740680. PMID 29180424.
  12. ^ Sun, Youbin; McManus, Jerry F.; Clemens, Steven C.; Zhang, Xu; Vogel, Hendrik; Hodell, David A.; Guo, Fei; Wang, Ting; Liu, Xingxing; An, Zhisheng (1 November 2021). "Persistent orbital influence on millennial climate variability through the Pleistocene". Nature Geoscience. 14 (11): 812–818. Bibcode:2021NatGe..14..812S. doi:10.1038/s41561-021-00794-1. ISSN 1752-0908. S2CID 240358493. Retrieved 26 February 2024.
  13. ^ Vershinina, Alisa O.; Heintzman, Peter D.; Froese, Duane G.; Zazula, Grant; Cassatt-Johnstone, Molly; Dalén, Love; Der Sarkissian, Clio; Dunn, Shelby G.; Ermini, Luca; Gamba, Cristina; Groves, Pamela; Kapp, Joshua D.; Mann, Daniel H.; Seguin-Orlando, Andaine; Southon, John (December 2021). "Ancient horse genomes reveal the timing and extent of dispersals across the Bering Land Bridge". Molecular Ecology. 30 (23): 6144–6161. Bibcode:2021MolEc..30.6144V. doi:10.1111/mec.15977. hdl:10995/118212. ISSN 0962-1083. PMID 33971056.
  14. ^ a b Lister, Adrian M. (2004), "Ecological Interactions of Elephantids in Pleistocene Eurasia", Human Paleoecology in the Levantine Corridor, Oxbow Books, pp. 53–60, ISBN 978-1-78570-965-4, retrieved 2020-04-14
  15. ^ Wang, Yuan; Jin, Chang-zhu; Mead, Jim I. (August 2014). "New remains of Sinomastodon yangziensis (Proboscidea, Gomphotheriidae) from Sanhe karst Cave, with discussion on the evolution of Pleistocene Sinomastodon in South China". Quaternary International. 339–340: 90–96. Bibcode:2014QuInt.339...90W. doi:10.1016/j.quaint.2013.03.006.
  16. ^ a b Cantalapiedra, Juan L.; Sanisdro, Oscar L.; Zhang, Hanwen; Alberdi, Mª Teresa; Prado, Jose Luis; Blanco, Fernando; Saarinen, Juha (1 July 2021). "The rise and fall of proboscidean ecological diversity". Nature Ecology & Evolution. 355 (9): 1266–1272. Bibcode:2021NatEE...5.1266C. doi:10.1038/s41559-021-01498-w. PMID 34211141. S2CID 235712060. Retrieved 21 August 2021 – via
  17. ^ Palombo, Maria Rita; Sardella, Raffaele; Novelli, Micaela (March 2008). "Carnivora dispersal in Western Mediterranean during the last 2.6Ma". Quaternary International. 179 (1): 176–189. Bibcode:2008QuInt.179..176P. doi:10.1016/j.quaint.2007.08.029.
  18. ^ Lister, Adrian M. (October 2022). "Mammoth evolution in the late Middle Pleistocene: The Mammuthus trogontherii-primigenius transition in Europe". Quaternary Science Reviews. 294: 107693. Bibcode:2022QSRv..29407693L. doi:10.1016/j.quascirev.2022.107693. S2CID 252264887.
  19. ^ Fernández-Monescillo, Marcos; Martínez, Gastón; García López, Daniel; Frechen, Manfred; Romero-Lebrón, Eugenia; Krapovickas, Jerónimo M.; Haro, J. Augusto; Rodríguez, Pablo E.; Rouzaut, Sabrina; Tauber, Adan A. (February 2023). "The last record of the last typotherid (Notoungulata, Mesotheriidae, Mesotherium cristatum) for the middle Pleistocene of the western Pampean region, Córdoba Province, Argentina, and its biostratigraphic implications". Quaternary Science Reviews. 301: 107925. Bibcode:2023QSRv..30107925F. doi:10.1016/j.quascirev.2022.107925. S2CID 254913691.
  20. ^ Froese, Duane; Stiller, Mathias; Heintzman, Peter D.; Reyes, Alberto V.; Zazula, Grant D.; Soares, André E. R.; Meyer, Matthias; Hall, Elizabeth; Jensen, Britta J. L.; Arnold, Lee J.; MacPhee, Ross D. E. (2017-03-28). "Fossil and genomic evidence constrains the timing of bison arrival in North America". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 114 (13): 3457–3462. Bibcode:2017PNAS..114.3457F. doi:10.1073/pnas.1620754114. ISSN 0027-8424. PMC 5380047. PMID 28289222.
  21. ^ Wuttke, Michael; Přikryl, Tomáš; Ratnikov, Viacheslav Yu.; Dvořák, Zdeněk; Roček, Zbyněk (September 2012). "Generic diversity and distributional dynamics of the Palaeobatrachidae (Amphibia: Anura)". Palaeobiodiversity and Palaeoenvironments. 92 (3): 367–395. Bibcode:2012PdPe...92..367W. doi:10.1007/s12549-012-0071-y. ISSN 1867-1594. S2CID 130080167.
  22. ^ D. Richter & others (8 June 2017). "The Age of Hominin Fossils from Jebel Irhoud, Morocco, and the origins of the Middle Stone Age". Nature. 546 (7657): 293–296. Bibcode:2017Natur.546..293R. doi:10.1038/nature22335. PMID 28593967. S2CID 205255853..
  23. ^ Crew, Bec (15 March 2016). "The Oldest Human Genome Ever Has Been Sequenced, And It Could Rewrite Our History". ScienceAlert. Retrieved 5 June 2019.
  24. ^ Gaudzinski-Windheuser, Sabine; Kindler, Lutz; Roebroeks, Wil (2023-11-13). "Beaver exploitation, 400,000 years ago, testifies to prey choice diversity of Middle Pleistocene hominins". Scientific Reports. 13 (1): 19766. Bibcode:2023NatSR..1319766G. doi:10.1038/s41598-023-46956-6. hdl:1887/3674398. ISSN 2045-2322. PMID 37957223.