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The Pliocene ( ; also Pleiocene)
Epoch In chronology 222px, Joseph Scaliger's ''De emendatione temporum'' (1583) began the modern science of chronology Chronology (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-E ...
is the epoch in the
geologic timescale The geologic time scale (GTS) is a system of chronological datingChronological dating, or simply dating, is the process of attributing to an object or event a date in the past, allowing such object or event to be located in a previously establis ...
that extends from 5.333 million to 2.58See the 2014 version of the ICS geologic time scale
million years BP. It is the second and most recent epoch of the
Neogene The Neogene ( ) (informally Upper Tertiary or Late Tertiary) is a geologic period and system that spans 20.45 million years from the end of the Paleogene The Paleogene ( ; also spelled Palaeogene or Palæogene; informally Lower Tertiary or Ea ...

Neogene
Period in the
Cenozoic Era The Cenozoic Era ( ) meaning "new life" is the current and most recent of the three geological eras of the Phanerozoic The Phanerozoic Eon is the current geologic eon in the geologic time scale The geologic time scale (GTS) is a system of ch ...

Cenozoic Era
. The Pliocene follows the
Miocene The Miocene ( ) is the first Epoch (geology), geological epoch of the Neogene Period and extends from about (Ma). The Miocene was named by Scottish geologist Charles Lyell; its name comes from the Greek words (', "less") and (', "new") and mean ...
Epoch and is followed by the
Pleistocene The Pleistocene ( , often referred to as the ''Ice Age'') is the geological Epoch (geology), epoch that lasted from about 2,580,000 to 11,700 years ago, spanning the earth’s most recent period of repeated glaciations. Before a change finally ...
Epoch. Prior to the 2009 revision of the geologic time scale, which placed the four most recent major glaciations entirely within the Pleistocene, the Pliocene also included the
Gelasian The Gelasian is an age (geology), age in the international geologic timescale or a stage (stratigraphy), stage in chronostratigraphy, being the earliest or lowest subdivision of the Quaternary Period/System and Pleistocene Epoch/Series. It spans t ...
Stage, which lasted from 2.588 to 1.806 million years ago, and is now included in the Pleistocene. As with other older geologic periods, the geological strata that define the start and end are well identified but the exact dates of the start and end of the epoch are slightly uncertain. The boundaries defining the Pliocene are not set at an easily identified worldwide event but rather at regional boundaries between the warmer Miocene and the relatively cooler Pliocene. The upper boundary was set at the start of the Pleistocene glaciations.


Etymology

Charles Lyell Sir Charles Lyell, 1st Baronet, (14 November 1797 – 22 February 1875) was a Scottish geologist who demonstrated the power of known natural causes in explaining the earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astro ...

Charles Lyell
(later Sir Charles) gave the Pliocene its name in ''Principles of Geology'' (volume 3, 1833). The word ''pliocene'' comes from the Greek words (, "more") and (, "new" or "recent") and means roughly "continuation of the recent", referring to the essentially modern marine
mollusc Mollusca is the second-largest phylum In biology, a phylum (; plural The plural (sometimes list of glossing abbreviations, abbreviated ), in many languages, is one of the values of the grammatical number, grammatical category of number ...
fauna.


Subdivisions

In the official timescale of the
ICS ICS may refer to: Computing * Image Cytometry Standard, a digital multidimensional image file format used in life sciences microscopy * Industrial control system, computer systems and networks used to control industrial plants and infrastructure ...
, the Pliocene is subdivided into two
stages Stage or stages may refer to: Acting * Stage (theatre) In theatre and performing arts, the stage (sometimes referred to as the deck in stagecraft) is a designated space for the performance of theatrical production, productions. The stage s ...
. From youngest to oldest they are: *
Piacenzian The Piacenzian is in the international geologic time scale the upper stage (stratigraphy), stage or latest age (geology), age of the Pliocene. It spans the time between 3.6 ± 0.005 annum, Ma and 2.588 ± 0.005 Ma (million years ago). The Piacenzian ...
(3.600–2.58 Ma) *
Zanclean The Zanclean is the lowest stage (stratigraphy), stage or earliest age (geology), age on the geologic time scale of the Pliocene. It spans the time between 5.332 ± 0.005 annum, Ma (million years ago) and 3.6 ± 0.005 Ma. It is preceded by the Me ...
(5.333–3.600 Ma) The Piacenzian is sometimes referred to as the Late Pliocene, whereas the Zanclean is referred to as the Early Pliocene. In the system of *
North American Land Mammal AgesThe North American land mammal ages (NALMA) establishes a Geologic time scale, geologic timescale for North American fauna beginning during the Late Cretaceous and continuing through to the present. These periods are referred to as ages or intervals ...
(NALMA) include
HemphillianThe Hemphillian North American Stage on the geologic timescale is the North American faunal stage according to the North American Land Mammal Ages chronology (NALMA), typically set from 10,300,000 to 4,900,000 years Before Present, BP. It is usually ...
(9–4.75 Ma), and
BlancanThe Blancan North American Stage on the geologic timescale The geologic time scale (GTS) is a system of chronological dating that classifies Geology, geological strata (stratigraphy) in time. It is used by geologists, paleontology, paleontologists ...
(4.75–1.6 Ma). The Blancan extends forward into the
Pleistocene The Pleistocene ( , often referred to as the ''Ice Age'') is the geological Epoch (geology), epoch that lasted from about 2,580,000 to 11,700 years ago, spanning the earth’s most recent period of repeated glaciations. Before a change finally ...
. *
South American Land Mammal Ages The South American land mammal ages (SALMA) establish a geologic timescale for prehistoric South American fauna beginning 64.5 Mya (unit), Ma during the Paleocene and continuing through to the Late Pleistocene (0.011 Ma). These periods are referred ...
(SALMA) include
Montehermosan The Montehermosan age is a period of geologic time (6.8–4.0 Ma) within the Miocene The Miocene ( ) is the first Epoch (geology), geological epoch of the Neogene Period and extends from about (Ma). The Miocene was named by Scottish author Charle ...
(6.8–4.0 Ma),
Chapadmalalan The Chapadmalalan age is a period of geologic time (4.0–3.0 Mya (unit), Ma) within the Pliocene epoch of the Neogene used more specifically with South American Land Mammal Ages. It follows the Montehermosan and precedes the Uquian age. Fossil co ...
(4.0–3.0 Ma) and
Uquian The Uquian age is a period of geologic time The geologic time scale (GTS) is a system of chronological datingChronological dating, or simply dating, is the process of attributing to an object or event a date in the past, allowing such object or e ...
(3.0–1.2 Ma). In the
Paratethys The Paratethys ocean, Paratethys sea or just Paratethys was a large shallow inland sea that stretched from the region north of the Alps over Central Europe to the Aral Sea in Central Asia. The sea was formed during the Oxfordian (stage), Oxfordia ...
area (central
Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of scienc ...

Europe
and parts of western Asia) the Pliocene contains the Dacian (roughly equal to the Zanclean) and
Romanian Romanian may refer to: *anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Romania Romania ( ; ro, România ) is a country at the crossroads of Central Europe, Central, Eastern Europe, Eastern and Southeast Europe, Southeastern Euro ...
(roughly equal to the Piacenzian and Gelasian together) stages. As usual in stratigraphy, there are many other regional and local subdivisions in use. In
Britain Britain usually refers to: * United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United ...

Britain
the Pliocene is divided into the following stages (old to young): Gedgravian, Waltonian, Pre-Ludhamian, Ludhamian, Thurnian, Bramertonian or Antian, Pre-Pastonian or Baventian, Pastonian and Beestonian. In the
Netherlands ) , national_anthem = ( en, "William of Nassau") , image_map = EU-Netherlands.svg , map_caption = , image_map2 = BES islands location map.svg , map_caption2 = , image_map3 ...

Netherlands
the Pliocene is divided into these stages (old to young): Brunssumian C, Reuverian A, Reuverian B, Reuverian C, Praetiglian, Tiglian A, Tiglian B, Tiglian C1-4b, Tiglian C4c, Tiglian C5, Tiglian C6 and
Eburonian The Eburonian (german: Eburon or ''Eburonium''), or, much less commonly, the Eburonian Stage, is a glacial complex in the Calabrian (stage), Calabrian stage of the Pleistocene Epoch (geology), epoch and lies between the Tegelen and the Waalian inter ...
. The exact correlations between these local stages and the
International Commission on Stratigraphy The International Commission on Stratigraphy (ICS), sometimes referred to unofficially as the "International Stratigraphic Commission", is a daughter or major subcommittee grade scientific daughter organization that concerns itself with stratigr ...
(ICS) stages is still a matter of detail.


Climate

The global average temperature in the mid-Pliocene (3.3–3 mya) was 2–3 °C higher than today, carbon dioxide levels were the same as today, and global sea level was 25 m higher. The northern hemisphere ice sheet was ephemeral before the onset of extensive
glaciation A glacial period (alternatively glacial or glaciation) is an interval of time (thousands of years) within an ice age An ice age is a long period of reduction in the temperature of Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the o ...

glaciation
over
Greenland Greenland ( kl, Kalaallit Nunaat, ; da, Grønland, ) is an autonomous territory An autonomous administrative division (also referred to as an autonomous area, entity, unit, region, subdivision, or territory) is a subnational administra ...

Greenland
that occurred in the late Pliocene around 3 Ma. The formation of an Arctic ice cap is signaled by an abrupt shift in
oxygen Oxygen is the chemical element Image:Simple Periodic Table Chart-blocks.svg, 400px, Periodic table, The periodic table of the chemical elements In chemistry, an element is a pure substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same ...

oxygen
isotope Isotopes are two or more types of atoms that have the same atomic number 300px, The Rutherford–Bohr model of the hydrogen atom () or a hydrogen-like ion (). In this model it is an essential feature that the photon energy (or frequency) of ...
ratios and ice-rafted cobbles in the North and North
Pacific ocean The Pacific Ocean is the largest and deepest of Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbour and support life. 29.2% of Earth's surface is land consisting of continents and islands. ...

Pacific ocean
beds.Van Andel (1994), p. 226. Mid-latitude glaciation was probably underway before the end of the epoch. The global cooling that occurred during the Pliocene may have spurred on the disappearance of forests and the spread of grasslands and savannas.


Paleogeography

Continents continued to drift, moving from positions possibly as far as 250 km from their present locations to positions only 70 km from their current locations.
South America South America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical regions are commonly regarded as continent ...

South America
became linked to North America through the
Isthmus of Panama The Isthmus of Panama ( es, Istmo de Panamá), also historically known as the Isthmus of Darien (), is the narrow strip of land that lies between the Caribbean Sea The Caribbean Sea ( es, Mar Caribe; french: Mer des Caraïbes; ht, Lamè Ka ...
during the Pliocene, making possible the
Great American Interchange The Great American Biotic Interchange (commonly abbreviated as GABI), also known as the Great American Interchange or Great American Faunal Interchange, was an important late Cenozoic The Cenozoic ( ; ) is Earth's current geological era An er ...
and bringing a nearly complete end to South America's distinctive native ungulate fauna, though other South American lineages like its predatory mammals were already extinct by this point and others like
xenarthrans Xenarthra (; from Ancient Greek wikt:ξένος, ξένος, xénos, “foreign, alien” + wikt:ἄρθρον, ἄρθρον, árthron, “joint”) is a major clade of Placentalia, placental mammals unique to the Americas. There are 31 living sp ...

xenarthrans
continued to do well afterwards. The formation of the Isthmus had major consequences on global temperatures, since warm equatorial ocean currents were cut off and an Atlantic cooling cycle began, with cold Arctic and Antarctic waters dropping temperatures in the now-isolated Atlantic Ocean.
Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', ...

Africa
's collision with
Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of scienc ...

Europe
formed the
Mediterranean Sea The Mediterranean Sea is a connected to the , surrounded by the and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by and and , on the south by , and on the east by the . The Sea has played a central role in the . Although the Mediterrane ...
, cutting off the remnants of the
Tethys Ocean The Tethys Ocean ( el, Τηθύς ''Tēthús''), also called the Tethys Sea or the Neo-Tethys, was an ocean during much of the Era located between the ancient continents of and , before the opening of the and oceans during the Period. Etym ...
. The border between the Miocene and the Pliocene is also the time of the
Messinian salinity crisis The Messinian salinity crisis (MSC), also referred to as the Messinian event, and in its latest stage as the Lago Mare event, was a geological event during which the Mediterranean Sea went into a cycle of partial or nearly complete desiccation (dr ...
. The
land bridge In biogeography Biogeography is the study of the distribution of species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A sp ...
between
Alaska Alaska (; ale, Alax̂sxax̂; ; ems, Alas'kaaq; Central Alaskan Yup'ik language, Yup'ik: ''Alaskaq''; tli, Anáaski) is a U.S. state in the Western United States, on the northwest extremity of the country's West Coast of the United State ...

Alaska
and
Siberia Siberia (; rus, Сибирь, r=Sibir', p=sʲɪˈbʲirʲ, a=Ru-Сибирь.ogg) is an extensive geographical region, constituting all of North Asia, from the Ural Mountains in the west to the Pacific Ocean in the east. It has been a part of R ...

Siberia
(
Beringia Beringia is defined today as the land and maritime area bounded on the west by the Lena River The Lena (russian: link=no, Ле́на, ; evn, Елюенэ, ''Eljune''; sah, Өлүөнэ, ''Ölüöne''; bua, Зүлхэ, ''Zülkhe''; mn, З ...
) was first flooded near the start of the Pliocene, allowing marine organisms to spread between the Arctic and Pacific Oceans. The bridge would continue to be periodically flooded and restored thereafter. Pliocene marine formations are exposed in northeast Spain, southern California, New Zealand, and Italy. During the Pliocene parts of southern Norway and southern Sweden that had been near sea level rose. In Norway this rise elevated the to 1200 m in the Early Pliocene. In Southern Sweden similar movements elevated the
South Swedish highlands 300px, Aerial view of farms and forest in Ydre Municipality. file:skuruhatt.jpg, 250px, The forested landscape of the South Swedish highlands, seen from Skuruhatt in Eksjö Municipality. The South Swedish highlands or South Swedish Uplands ( sv, l ...
leading to a deflection of the ancient Eridanos river from its original path across south-central Sweden into a course south of Sweden.


Flora

The change to a cooler, dry, seasonal climate had considerable impacts on Pliocene vegetation, reducing tropical species worldwide.
Deciduous In the fields of horticulture Horticulture is the art of cultivating plants in gardens to produce food and medicinal ingredients, or for comfort and ornamental purposes. Horticulturists are agriculturists who grow flowers, fruits and nuts, ...
forests proliferated,
coniferous Conifers are a group of cone-bearing seed plants The spermatophytes (; ), also known as phanerogams (taxon Phanerogamae) or phaenogams (taxon Phaenogamae), comprise those plants that produce seeds, hence the alternative name seed plants. They ...
forests and
tundra In physical geography Physical geography (also known as physiography) is one of the two fields of geography Geography (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα ...

tundra
covered much of the north, and
grassland Grasslands are areas where the vegetation Vegetation is an assemblage of species and the they provide. It is a general term, without specific reference to particular , life forms, structure, extent, or any other specific or geographic ...

grassland
s spread on all continents (except Antarctica). Tropical forests were limited to a tight band around the equator, and in addition to dry
savannahs A savanna or savannah is a mixed woodland-grassland ecosystem characterised by the trees being sufficiently widely spaced so that the Canopy (forest), canopy does not close. The open canopy allows sufficient light to reach the ground to support ...

savannahs
,
deserts upright=1.5, alt=see caption, Sand dunes in the Rub' al Khali ("Empty quarter") in the United Arab Emirates">Rub'_al_Khali.html" ;"title="Sand dunes in the Rub' al Khali">Sand dunes in the Rub' al Khali ("Empty quarter") in the United Arab ...

deserts
appeared in Asia and Africa.


Fauna

Both marine and continental faunas were essentially modern, although continental faunas were a bit more primitive than today. The first recognizable
hominins The Hominini form a taxonomic tribe of the subfamily Homininae Homininae (), also called "African hominids" or "African apes", is a subfamily of Hominidae. It includes two tribes, with their extant as well as extinct species: 1) the tribe H ...

hominins
, the
australopithecine Australopithecina or human taxonomy, Hominina is a subtribe in the tribe Hominini. The members of the subtribe are generally ''Australopithecus'' (cladistically including the genus, genera ''Homo'', ''Paranthropus'', and ''Kenyanthropus''), and ...
s, appeared in the Pliocene. The land mass collisions meant great migration and mixing of previously isolated species, such as in the
Great American Interchange The Great American Biotic Interchange (commonly abbreviated as GABI), also known as the Great American Interchange or Great American Faunal Interchange, was an important late Cenozoic The Cenozoic ( ; ) is Earth's current geological era An er ...
.
Herbivores A herbivore is an animal Animals (also called Metazoa) are multicellular A multicellular organism is an organism In biology, an organism () is any organic, life, living system that functions as an individual entity. All ...
got bigger, as did specialized predators. Image:Oliva sayana.jpg, The
gastropod The gastropods (), commonly known as snails and slugs, belong to a large taxonomic Taxonomy (general) is the practice and science of classification of things or concepts, including the principles that underlie such classification. The term may ...
'''', from the Pliocene of
Florida Florida is a U.S. state, state located in the Southeastern United States, Southeastern region of the United States. Florida is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the northwest by Alabama, to the north by Georgia (U.S. state), Geor ...

Florida
Image:Cladocora.jpg, The
coral Corals are marine invertebrates Marine invertebrates are the invertebrates that live in marine habitats. Invertebrate is a blanket term that includes all animals apart from the vertebrate members of the chordate phylum. Invertebrates lack a ver ...

coral
''
Cladocora left, ''Cladocora'' from the Pliocene of Cyprus. ''Cladocora'' is a genus Genus (plural genera) is a taxonomic rank Taxonomy (general) is the practice and science of classification of things or concepts, including the principles that underli ...

Cladocora
'' from the Pliocene of
Cyprus Cyprus ; tr, Kıbrıs (), officially called the Republic of Cyprus,, , lit: Republic of Cyprus is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or poli ...

Cyprus
Image:CyprusPlioceneGastropod.JPG, A gastropod and attached serpulid wormtube from the Pliocene of Cyprus Image:Turritellatricarinata.jpg, The gastropod ''
Turritella ''Turritella'' is a genus Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ (plural genera /ˈdʒen.ər.ə/) is a taxonomic rank In biological classification In biology, taxonomy () is the scientific study of naming, defining (Circumscription (taxonomy), circu ...
carinata'' from the Pliocene of Cyprus Image:SpondylusPliocene.jpg, The thorny
oyster Oyster is the common name Common may refer to: Places * Common, a townland in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland * Boston Common Boston Common (also known as the Common) is a central public park in downtown Boston, Massachusetts. It is someti ...

oyster
''
Spondylus ''Spondylus'' is a genus Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ (plural genera /ˈdʒen.ər.ə/) is a taxonomic rank In biological classification In biology, taxonomy () is the scientific study of naming, defining (Circumscription (taxonomy), circu ...

Spondylus
'' right and left valve interiors from the Pliocene of Cyprus Image:Diodoraitalica.jpg, The
limpet Limpets are a group of aquatic snails A snail is, in loose terms, a shelled gastropod. The name is most often applied to land snails, terrestrial molluscs, terrestrial pulmonate gastropod molluscs. However, the common name ''snail'' i ...
''Diodora italica'' from the Pliocene of Cyprus Image:DentaliumPliocene.jpg, The
scaphopod The tusk shells or tooth shells, technically the Scaphopoda (the scaphopods , from Ancient Greek σκᾰ́φης ''skáphē'' "boat" and πούς ''poús'' "foot"), are members of a class (biology), class of shelled Marine (ocean), marine mo ...
'' Dentalium'' from the Pliocene of Cyprus File:Aporrhais from Pliocene.jpg, The gastropod ''
Aporrhais ''Aporrhais'' is a genus of medium-sized sea snails, marine (ocean), marine gastropod mollusks in the family (biology), family Aporrhaidae and the superfamily Stromboidea.
'' from the Pliocene of Cyprus Image:AnadaraPliocene.jpg, The arcid bivalve ''
Anadara ''Anadara'' is a genus of seawater, saltwater bivalves, ark clams, in the family (biology), family Arcidae. It is also called ''Scapharca''. This genus is known in the fossil record from the Cretaceous period to the Quaternary period (age range: ...
'' from the Pliocene of Cyprus Image:Amusium cristatum Cyprus.jpg, The pectenid bivalve ''Ammusium cristatum'' from the Pliocene of Cyprus Image:Petaloconchus Cyprus Pliocene.JPG, Vermetid gastropod '''' attached to a branch of the
coral Corals are marine invertebrates Marine invertebrates are the invertebrates that live in marine habitats. Invertebrate is a blanket term that includes all animals apart from the vertebrate members of the chordate phylum. Invertebrates lack a ver ...

coral
''Cladocora'' from the Pliocene of Cyprus Image:Chesapecten barnacles Pliocene VA.jpg, '' Chesapecten'',
barnacles A barnacle is a type of arthropod An arthropod (, (gen. ποδός)) is an invertebrate animal having an exoskeleton, a Segmentation (biology), segmented body, and paired jointed appendages. Arthropods form the phylum Euarthropoda,Reference ...

barnacles
and sponge borings ('' Entobia'') from the Pliocene of York River, Virginia


Mammals

In North America,
rodents Rodents (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republi ...

rodents
, large
mastodon A mastodon ( 'breast' + 'tooth') is any proboscidea The Proboscidea (, from the Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country ...

mastodon
s and
gomphothere Gomphotheres are any members of the diverse, extinct Extinction is the termination of a kind of organism In biology, an organism (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ὀργανισμός, ''organismos'') is any individual contiguous system th ...
s, and
opossum Opossums () are members of the marsupial Order (biology), order Didelphimorphia () Endemism, endemic to the Americas. The largest order of marsupials in the Western Hemisphere, it comprises 120+ species in 19 Genus, genera. Opossums originated i ...

opossum
s continued successfully, while hoofed animals (
ungulate Ungulates ( ) are members of the diverse clade A clade (), also known as a monophyletic group or natural group, is a group of organisms that are monophyly, monophyletic – that is, composed of a common ancestor and all its lineage (evoluti ...
s) declined, with
camel A camel is an even-toed ungulate The even-toed ungulates (Artiodactyla , ) are ungulates—hoofed animals—which bear weight equally on two (an even number) of their five toes: the third and fourth. The other three toes are either present, ...

camel
,
deer Deer or true deer are hoof A hoof ( or ), plural hooves ( or ) or hoofs , is the tip of a toe Toes are the digits (fingers) of the foot of a tetrapod. Animal Animals (also called Metazoa) are multicellular eukaryotic organis ...

deer
and
horse The horse (''Equus ferus caballus'') is a domesticated Domestication is a sustained multi-generational relationship in which one group of organisms assumes a significant degree of influence over the reproduction and care of another group to ...

horse
all seeing populations recede. Three-toed horses ('' Nannippus''), oreodonts, protoceratids, and
chalicothere Chalicotheres (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 m ...
s became extinct. Borophagine dogs and '' Agriotherium'' became extinct, but other
carnivores A carnivore , meaning "meat Meat is animal Animals (also called Metazoa) are multicellular eukaryotic organisms that form the Kingdom (biology), biological kingdom Animalia. With few exceptions, animals Heterotroph, consume orga ...
including the
weasel Weasels are mammal Mammals (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meani ...

weasel
family diversified, and
dog The dog or domestic dog (''Canis familiaris'' or ''Canis lupus familiaris'') is a domesticated Domestication is a sustained multi-generational relationship in which one group of organisms assumes a significant degree of influence over the ...

dog
s and
short-faced bear The short-faced bear (''Arctodus'' sp.) is an extinct bear genus that inhabited North America North America is a continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all within the Western Hemisphere. It can also be described as ...
s did well.
Ground sloth Ground sloths are a diverse group of extinct sloths, in the mammalian superorder Xenarthra. The term is used as a reference for all extinct sloths because of the large size of the earliest forms discovered, as opposed to existing tree sloths. The ...

Ground sloth
s, huge
glyptodont Glyptodonts are an extinct clade A clade (), also known as a monophyletic group or natural group, is a group of organisms that are monophyly, monophyletic – that is, composed of a common ancestor and all its lineage (evolution), lineal de ...

glyptodont
s, and
armadillo Armadillos (meaning "little armored ones" in Spanish) are New World The "New World" is a term for the majority of Earth's Western Hemisphere, specifically the Americas."America." ''The Oxford Companion to the English Language'' (). McArth ...

armadillo
s came north with the formation of the Isthmus of Panama. In
Eurasia Eurasia () is the largest continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a ...

Eurasia
rodents did well, while
primate A primate ( ) (from Latin , from 'prime, first rank') is a eutherian mammal constituting the Taxonomy (biology), taxonomic order (biology), order Primates (). Primates arose 85–55 million years ago first from small Terrestrial animal, ...

primate
distribution declined.
Elephant Elephants are the largest existing land animals. Three living species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A specie ...

Elephant
s,
gomphothere Gomphotheres are any members of the diverse, extinct Extinction is the termination of a kind of organism In biology, an organism (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ὀργανισμός, ''organismos'') is any individual contiguous system th ...
s and
stegodon ''Stegodon'', meaning "roofed tooth" (from the Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly div ...
ts were successful in Asia, and
hyrax Hyraxes (from grc, ὕραξ, translit=hýrax, "shrew Shrews ( family Soricidae) are small mole-like mammals Mammals (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Ind ...

hyrax
es migrated north from Africa.
Horse The horse (''Equus ferus caballus'') is a domesticated Domestication is a sustained multi-generational relationship in which one group of organisms assumes a significant degree of influence over the reproduction and care of another group to ...

Horse
diversity declined, while tapirs and rhinos did fairly well.
Cow Cow is a colloquial term for cattle, and the name of female cattle. Cow, cows or COW may also refer to: Science and technology * Cow, an adult female of List of animal names, several animals * AT2018cow, a large astronomical explosion also kn ...

Cow
s and
antelope The term antelope is used to refer to many species of even-toed ruminant Ruminants (suborder In biological classification, the order ( la, wikt:ordo#Latin, ordo) is # a taxonomic rank used in the classification of organisms and recognized by ...

antelope
s were successful, and some camel species crossed into Asia from North America.
Hyenas Hyenas, or hyaenas (from Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers simply as G ...
and early
saber-toothed cat A saber-tooth (alternatively spelled sabre-tooth) is any member of various extinct groups of predatory Predation is a biological interaction In ecology Ecology (from el, οἶκος, "house" and el, -λογία, label=none, "stud ...
s appeared, joining other predators including dogs, bears and weasels. Africa was dominated by hoofed animals, and primates continued their evolution, with
australopithecine Australopithecina or human taxonomy, Hominina is a subtribe in the tribe Hominini. The members of the subtribe are generally ''Australopithecus'' (cladistically including the genus, genera ''Homo'', ''Paranthropus'', and ''Kenyanthropus''), and ...
s (some of the first
hominin The Hominini form a taxonomic tribe of the subfamily Homininae Homininae (), also called "African hominids" or "African apes", is a subfamily of Hominidae The Hominidae (), whose members are known as great apes or hominids (), are a t ...

hominin
s) appearing in the late Pliocene. Rodents were successful, and elephant populations increased. Cows and antelopes continued diversification and overtook
pig The pig (''Sus domesticus''), often called swine, hog, or domestic pig when distinguishing from other members of the genus '' Sus'', is an omnivorous An omnivore () is an animal that has the ability to eat and survive on both plant and ani ...
s in numbers of species. Early
giraffe The giraffe is a tall African mammal Mammals (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''c ...

giraffe
s appeared. Horses and modern rhinos came onto the scene. Bears, dogs and weasels (originally from North America) joined cats, hyenas and
civet A civet () is a small, lean, mostly nocturnal Nocturnality is an animal behavior Ethology is the scientific Science (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch ...

civet
s as the African predators, forcing hyenas to adapt as specialized scavengers. South America was invaded by North American species for the first time since the
Cretaceous The Cretaceous ( ) is a geological period A geological period is one of the several subdivisions of geologic time enabling cross-referencing of rocks and geologic events from place to place. These periods form elements of a hierarchy of division ...

Cretaceous
, with North American rodents and primates mixing with southern forms.
Litoptern Litopterna (from grc, λῑτή πτέρνα "smooth heel") is an extinct Extinction is the termination of a kind of organism In biology, an organism (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ὀργανισμός, ''organismos'') is any individual ...
s and the notoungulates, South American natives, were mostly wiped out, except for the macrauchenids and toxodonts, which managed to survive. Small weasel-like carnivorous
mustelid The Mustelidae (; from Latin ''mustela'', weasel) are a family of carnivorous A carnivore , meaning "meat Meat is animal flesh that is eaten as food. Humans have hunted and killed animals for meat since prehistoric times. The advent of ...
s,
coati Coatis, also known as coatimundis (), are members of the family Procyonidae Procyonidae is a New World family (biology), family of the order (biology), order Carnivora. It comprises the Procyon (genus), raccoons, Ring-tailed cat, ringtails ...

coati
s and
bears Bears are carnivora Carnivora is an order of placental Placentalia is one of the three extant subdivisions of the class of animals Mammalia Mammals (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Ita ...
migrated from the north. Grazing
glyptodont Glyptodonts are an extinct clade A clade (), also known as a monophyletic group or natural group, is a group of organisms that are monophyly, monophyletic – that is, composed of a common ancestor and all its lineage (evolution), lineal de ...

glyptodont
s, browsing
giant ground sloth ''Megatherium'' ( from the Greek language, Greek ''Mega-, mega'' έγας meaning "great", and ''therion (disambiguation), therion'' ηρίον "beast") is an extinct genus of ground sloths endemic to South America that lived from the E ...

giant ground sloth
s and smaller caviomorph rodents, pampatheres, and
armadillos Armadillos (meaning "little armored ones" in Spanish) are New World The "New World" is a Eurocentrism, eurocultural term applied to the majority of Earth's Western Hemisphere, specifically the Americas."America." ''The Oxford Companion to t ...
did the opposite, migrating to the north and thriving there. The marsupials remained the dominant Australian mammals, with herbivore forms including
wombat Wombats are short-legged, muscular quadrupedal marsupials that are native to Australia. They are about in length with small, stubby tails and weigh between . All three of the extant species are members of the family (biology), family Vombati ...

wombat
s and
kangaroo The kangaroo is a marsupial from the family Macropodidae (macropods, meaning "large foot"). In common use the term is used to describe the largest species from this family, the red kangaroo, as well as the antilopine kangaroo, eastern grey k ...

kangaroo
s, and the huge ''
Diprotodon ''Diprotodon'' is an extinct genus of gigantic quadrupedal marsupial native to Australia during the Pleistocene The Pleistocene ( , often colloquially referred to as the ''Ice Age'') is the geological Epoch (geology), epoch that lasted from abo ...

Diprotodon
''. Carnivorous marsupials continued hunting in the Pliocene, including
dasyurid The Dasyuridae are a family of marsupial Marsupials are any members of the mammal Mammals (from Latin language, Latin , 'breast') are a group of vertebrate animals constituting the class (biology), class Mammalia (), and characterized ...
s, the dog-like
thylacine The thylacine ( , or , also ) (''Thylacinus cynocephalus'') is an extinct Extinction is the termination of a kind of organism In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including t ...

thylacine
and cat-like ''
Thylacoleo ''Thylacoleo'' ("pouch lion") is an of carnivorous s that lived in from the late to the late (2 million to 46 thousand years ago). Some of these marsupial lions were the largest ian predators in Australia of their time, with ' approaching t ...

Thylacoleo
''. The first rodents arrived in Australia. The modern
platypus The platypus (''Ornithorhynchus anatinus''), sometimes referred to as the duck-billed platypus, is a List of semiaquatic tetrapods, semiaquatic, egg-laying mammal Endemic (ecology), endemic to Eastern states of Australia, eastern Australia, ...

platypus
, a
monotreme Monotremes are prototherian mammals of the order Monotremata. They are one of the three main groups of living mammals, along with placentals (Eutheria) and marsupials (Metatheria). Monotremes are typified by structural differences in their brai ...
, appeared.


Birds

The predatory South American phorusrhacids were rare in this time; among the last was '' Titanis'', a large phorusrhacid that migrated to North America and rivaled mammals as top predator. Other birds probably evolved at this time, some modern (such as the genera '' Cygnus'', ''
Bubo A bubo (Greek βουβών, ''boubṓn'', 'groin') is adenitis Adenitis is a general term for an inflammation of a gland. Often it is used to refer to lymphadenitis which is the inflammation of a lymph node. Classification Lymph node adenitis ...
'', ''
Struthio ''Struthio'' is a genus Genus (plural genera) is a taxonomic rank Taxonomy (general) is the practice and science of classification of things or concepts, including the principles that underlie such classification. The term may also refer to a ...
'' and ''
Corvus ''Corvus'' is a widely distributed genus of medium-sized to large birds in the family Corvidae. The genus includes species commonly known as crows, ravens and rook (bird), rooks; there is no consistent distinction between "crows" and "ravens", ...

Corvus
''), some now extinct.


Reptiles and amphibians

Alligator An alligator is a crocodilia Crocodilia (or Crocodylia, both ) is an Order (biology), order of mostly large, predatory, List of semiaquatic tetrapods, semiaquatic reptiles, known as crocodilians. They first appeared 95 million years ago ...

Alligator
s and
crocodile Crocodiles (family In , family (from la, familia) is a of people related either by (by recognized birth) or (by marriage or other relationship). The purpose of families is to maintain the well-being of its members and of society. I ...

crocodile
s died out in Europe as the climate cooled.
Venomous snake Venomous snakes are Species (biology), species of the Suborder (biology), suborder Snake, Serpentes that are capable of producing Snake venom, venom, which they use for killing prey, for defense, and to assist with digestion of their prey. The v ...
genera continued to increase as more rodents and birds evolved.
Rattlesnake Rattlesnakes are a group of venomous snakes of the genus, genera ''Crotalus'' and ''Sistrurus'' of the subfamily Crotalinae (the pit vipers). All rattlesnakes are vipers. The scientific name ''Crotalus'' is derived from the Greek language, Greek ...

Rattlesnake
s first appeared in the Pliocene. The modern species ''
Alligator mississippiensis The American alligator (''Alligator mississippiensis''), sometimes referred to colloquially as a gator or common alligator, is a large crocodilian reptile native to the Southeastern United States and northeastern Mexico. It is one of two extan ...

Alligator mississippiensis
'', having evolved in the Miocene, continued into the Pliocene, except with a more northern range; specimens have been found in very late Miocene deposits of Tennessee. Giant tortoise, Giant tortoises still thrived in North America, with genera like ''Hesperotestudo''. madtsoiidae, Madtsoid snakes were still present in Australia. The amphibian order Albanerpetontidae, Allocaudata became extinct.


Oceans

Oceans continued to be relatively warm during the Pliocene, though they continued cooling. The Arctic sea ice ecology and history, Arctic ice cap formed, drying the climate and increasing cool shallow currents in the North Atlantic. Deep cold currents flowed from the Antarctic. The formation of the Isthmus of Panama about 3.5 million years ago cut off the final remnant of what was once essentially a circum-equatorial current that had existed since the Cretaceous and the early Cenozoic. This may have contributed to further cooling of the oceans worldwide. The Pliocene seas were alive with sirenia, sea cows, Pinniped, seals, sea lions and Megalodon, sharks.


Supernovae

In 2002, Narciso Benítez ''et al.'' calculated that roughly 2 million years ago, around the end of the Pliocene Epoch, a group of bright Stellar classification, O and B stars called the Scorpius-Centaurus Association, Scorpius-Centaurus OB association passed within 130 light-years of Earth and that one or more supernova explosions gave rise to a feature known as the Local Bubble. Such a close explosion could have damaged the Earth's ozone layer and caused the extinction of some ocean life (at its peak, a supernova of this size could have the same absolute magnitude as an entire galaxy of 200 billion stars).Comins & Kaufmann (2005), p. 359. Radioactive Isotopes of iron, iron-60 isotopes that have been found in ancient seabed deposits further back this finding, as there are no natural sources for this radioactive isotope on Earth, but they can be produced in supernovae. Furthermore, iron-60 residues point to a huge spike 2.6 million years ago, but an excess scattered over 10 million years can also be found, suggesting that there may have been multiple, relatively close supernovae. In 2019, researchers found more of these interstellar iron-60 isotopes in Antarctica, which have been associated with the Local Interstellar Cloud.


See also

* List of fossil sites ''(with link directory)''


References


Further reading

* * ; 2004: ''A Geologic Time Scale 2004'', Cambridge University Press. * *


External links


Mid-Pliocene Global Warming: NASA/GISS Climate Modeling







"Supernova dealt deaths on Earth? Stellar blasts may have killed ancient marine life" ''Science News Online''
retrieved February 2, 2002


Pliocene Microfossils: 100+ images of Pliocene Foraminifera

Human Timeline (Interactive)
– Smithsonian Institution, Smithsonian, National Museum of Natural History (August 2016). {{Authority control Pliocene, Geological epochs Neogene geochronology