The role of the Levant in 135 million years of angiosperm evolution: a review

In: Israel Journal of Plant Sciences

ABSTRACT

The Levant's biogeographic setting also makes it a palaeobiologically significant location, as will be demonstrated here for the past 135 million years of plant evolution. Some of the earliest evidence for angiosperm diversification and dominance come from the Levant, and are possibly related to the environmental conditions in the region at the time. Later mammal migrations from Eurasia to Africa through the Levant resulted in the evolution of African savannas and the rise of grasses and humankind. Humankind left Africa through the Levant, in which it also settled. Agriculture and crop evolution began in the Levant and were to a large part an outcome of previous events. Thus, the geographic and climatic position of the Levant played significant direct and indirect roles in shaping plant life as we know it today. A temporally broad view of the Levant's role in plant evolution offers us insights into the relations between abiotic and biotic evolutionary drivers. This review corroborates that biotic evolutionary drivers are stronger and more apparent at small spatial, temporal and taxonomic scales, whereas abiotic evolutionary drivers are stronger and more apparent at larger scales.

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