We present two eight-million year long proxy records of precipitation for Southwest and Central Europe, covering the middle to late Miocene (5.3–13 Ma) at a temporal resolution of about 60 kyr and 150 kyr, respectively.
From 13.0 Ma until about 9 Ma, both records show a similar trend, evolving from a long dry period (13–11 Ma) into a "washhouse climate" (10.2–9.8 Ma), characterized by global warm conditions and several times more precipitation than present. The transition from washhouse to a dryer climate between 9.7 and 9.5 Ma and the concomitant cooling episode appear to have triggered a severe biotic event known as the Vallesian crisis, which included the extinction of hominoids in Western Europe.
A second washhouse period (9.0–8.5 Ma) was unprecedentedly intense in Southwest Europe, but less pronounced in Central Europe. From 8 Ma onward, a divergence in the two precipitation records is observed, with Southwest Europe staying wetter and Central Europe becoming dryer than present.
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