HOME
The Info List - Paleocene



--- Advertisement ---


(i) (i)

The PALEOCENE ( /ˈpæliəˌsiːn, ˈpæ-, -lioʊ-/ ) or PALAEOCENE, the "old recent", is a geologic epoch that lasted from about 66 to 56 million years ago. It is the first epoch of the Paleogene Period in the modern Cenozoic Era . As with many geologic periods , the strata that define the epoch's beginning and end are well identified, but the exact ages remain uncertain.

The Paleocene
Paleocene
Epoch brackets two major events in Earth's history. It started with the mass extinction event at the end of the Cretaceous
Cretaceous
, known as the Cretaceous– Paleogene (K–Pg) boundary . This was a time marked by the demise of non-avian dinosaurs , giant marine reptiles and much other fauna and flora . The die-off of the dinosaurs left unfilled ecological niches worldwide. The Paleocene
Paleocene
ended with the Paleocene– Eocene
Eocene
Thermal Maximum , a geologically brief (~0.2 million year) interval characterized by extreme changes in climate and carbon cycling.

The name "Paleocene" comes from Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek
and refers to the "old(er)" (παλαιός, palaios) "new" (καινός, kainos) fauna that arose during the epoch.

CONTENTS

* 1 Boundaries and subdivisions * 2 Climate

* 3 Paleogeography

* 3.1 Oceans

* 4 Flora
Flora

* 5 Fauna
Fauna

* 5.1 Mammals
Mammals
* 5.2 Reptiles * 5.3 Birds

* 6 References * 7 External links

BOUNDARIES AND SUBDIVISIONS

The K–Pg boundary that marks the separation between Cretaceous
Cretaceous
and Paleocene
Paleocene
is visible in the geological record of much of the Earth by a discontinuity in the fossil fauna, with high iridium levels. There is also fossil evidence of abrupt changes in flora and fauna . There is some evidence that a substantial but very short-lived climatic change may have happened in the very early decades of the Paleocene. There are several theories about the cause of the K–Pg extinction event , with most evidence supporting the impact of a 10 km diameter asteroid forming the buried Chicxulub crater on the coast of Yucatan
Yucatan
, Mexico
Mexico
.

The end of the Paleocene
Paleocene
(~55.8 Ma) was also marked by a time of major change, one of the most significant periods of global change during the Cenozoic. The Paleocene– Eocene
Eocene
Thermal Maximum upset oceanic and atmospheric circulation and led to the extinction of numerous deep-sea benthic foraminifera and a major turnover in mammals on land.

The Paleocene
Paleocene
is divided into three stages , the Danian , the Selandian and the Thanetian , as shown in the table above. Additionally, the Paleocene
Paleocene
is divided into six Mammal
Mammal
Paleogene zones .

CLIMATE

The early Paleocene
Paleocene
was cooler and drier than the preceding Cretaceous, though temperatures rose sharply during the Paleocene– Eocene
Eocene
Thermal Maximum . The climate became warm and humid worldwide towards the Eocene
Eocene
boundary, with subtropical vegetation growing in Greenland
Greenland
and Patagonia
Patagonia
, crocodilians swimming off the coast of Greenland, and early primates evolving in the tropical palm forests of northern Wyoming
Wyoming
. The Earth's poles were cool and temperate; North America
North America
, Europe
Europe
, Australia
Australia
and southern South America were warm and temperate; equatorial areas had tropical climates; and north and south of the equatorial areas, climates were hot and arid, not dissimilar to today's global desert belts around 30 degrees northern and southern latitude.

PALEOGEOGRAPHY

In many ways, the Paleocene
Paleocene
continued processes that had begun during the late Cretaceous
Cretaceous
Period. During the Paleocene, the continents continued to drift toward their present positions. Supercontinent Laurasia
Laurasia
had not yet separated into three continents - Europe
Europe
and Greenland
Greenland
were still connected, North America
North America
and Asia
Asia
were still intermittently joined by a land bridge, while Greenland
Greenland
and North America were beginning to separate. The Laramide orogeny of the late Cretaceous
Cretaceous
continued to uplift the Rocky Mountains
Rocky Mountains
in the American west, which ended in the succeeding epoch.

South and North America
North America
remained separated by equatorial seas (they joined during the Neogene
Neogene
); the components of the former southern supercontinent Gondwanaland continued to split apart, with Africa
Africa
, South America, Antarctica
Antarctica
and Australia
Australia
pulling away from each other. Africa
Africa
was heading north towards Europe, slowly closing the Tethys Ocean , and India
India
began its migration to Asia
Asia
that would lead to a tectonic collision and the formation of the Himalayas
Himalayas
.

The inland seas in North America
North America
( Western Interior Seaway ) and Europe
Europe
had receded by the beginning of the Paleocene, making way for new land-based flora and fauna.

OCEANS

Warm seas circulated throughout the world, including the poles. The earliest Paleocene
Paleocene
featured a low diversity and abundance of marine life, but this trend reversed later in the epoch. Tropical conditions gave rise to abundant marine life, including coral reefs . With the demise of marine reptiles at the end of the Cretaceous, sharks became the top predators. At the end of the Cretaceous, the ammonites and many species of foraminifera became extinct.

Marine fauna also came to resemble modern fauna, with only the marine mammals and the Carcharhinid sharks missing.

FLORA

Terrestrial Paleocene
Paleocene
strata immediately overlying the K–Pg boundary is in places marked by a "fern spike": a bed especially rich in fern fossils . Ferns are often the first species to colonize areas damaged by forest fires ; thus the fern spike may indicate post- Chicxulub crater devastation.

In general, the Paleocene
Paleocene
is marked by the development of modern plant species. Cacti and palm trees appeared. Paleocene
Paleocene
and later plant fossils are generally attributed to modern genera or to closely related taxa.

The warm temperatures worldwide gave rise to thick tropical, sub-tropical and deciduous forest cover around the globe (the first recognizably modern rain forests ) with ice-free polar regions covered with coniferous and deciduous trees. With no large browsing dinosaurs to thin them, Paleocene
Paleocene
forests were probably denser than those of the Cretaceous.

Flowering plants (angiosperms ), first seen in the Cretaceous, continued to develop and proliferate, and along with them coevolved the insects that fed on these plants and pollinated them.

FAUNA

MAMMALS

Life restoration of Titanoides
Titanoides

Mammals
Mammals
had first appeared in the Late Triassic , evolving from advanced cynodonts , and developed alongside the dinosaurs, exploiting ecological niches untouched by the larger and more famous Mesozoic animals: in the insect-rich forest underbrush and high up in the trees. These smaller mammals (as well as birds , reptiles , amphibians , and insects ) survived the mass extinction at the end of the Cretaceous
Cretaceous
which wiped out the non-avian dinosaurs , and mammals diversified and spread throughout the world.

While early mammals were small nocturnal animals that mostly ate soft plant material and small animals such as insects, the demise of the non-avian dinosaurs and the beginning of the Paleocene
Paleocene
saw mammals growing bigger and occupying a wider variety of ecological niches . Ten million years after the death of the non-avian dinosaurs, the world was filled with rodent-like mammals, medium-sized mammals scavenging in forests, and large herbivorous and carnivorous mammals hunting other mammals, birds, and reptiles.

Fossil
Fossil
evidence from the Paleocene
Paleocene
is scarce, and there is relatively little known about mammals of the time. Because of their small size (constant until late in the epoch) early mammal bones are not well preserved in the fossil record, and most of what we know comes from fossil teeth (a much tougher substance), and only a few skeletons.

The brain to body mass ratios of these archaic mammals were quite low.

Mammals
Mammals
of the Paleocene
Paleocene
include:

* Monotremes : The ornithorhynchid Obdurodon sudamericanum , in the family that includes the platypus , is the only monotreme known from the Paleocene. * Marsupials : modern kangaroos are marsupials, characterized by giving birth to embryonic young, who crawl into the mother's pouch and suckle until they are developed. The Bolivian Pucadelphys andinus and the North American Peradectes are two Paleocene
Paleocene
examples. * Multituberculates : the only major branch of mammals to become extinct since the K–Pg boundary, this rodent-like grouping includes the Paleocene
Paleocene
Ptilodus . * Placentals : this grouping of mammals became the most diverse and the most successful. Members include primates , plesiadapids , proboscideans , and hoofed ungulates, including the condylarths and the carnivorous mesonychids .

REPTILES

Section of an Asiatosuchus jaw

Because of the climatic conditions of the Paleocene, reptiles were more widely distributed over the globe than at present. Among the sub-tropical reptiles found in North America
North America
during this epoch are champsosaurs (fully aquatic reptiles), crocodilia , soft-shelled turtles , palaeophid snakes , varanid lizards , and Protochelydra zangerli (similar to modern snapping turtles ).

Examples of champsosaurs of the Paleocene
Paleocene
include Champsosaurus gigas, the largest champsosaur ever discovered. This creature was unusual among Paleocene
Paleocene
non-squamate reptiles in that C. gigas became larger than its known Mesozoic
Mesozoic
ancestors: C. gigas is more than twice the length of the largest Cretaceous
Cretaceous
specimens (3 meters versus 1.5 meters). Another genus, Simoedosaurus
Simoedosaurus
, was similarly large; it appears rather suddenly in the fossil record, as it's closest relatives occurred in the Early Cretaceous
Cretaceous
. Reptiles as a whole decreased in size after the K–Pg event. Champsosaurs declined towards the end of the Paleocene
Paleocene
and became extinct during the Miocene . Simoedosaurus
Simoedosaurus
, a Paleocene
Paleocene
choristodere .

Examples of Paleocene
Paleocene
crocodylians are Borealosuchus (formerly Leidyosuchus ) formidabilis, the apex predator and the largest animal of the Wannagan Creek fauna, and the alligatorid Wannaganosuchus .

Non-avian dinosaurs may have survived to some extent into the early Danian stage of the Paleocene
Paleocene
Epoch circa 64.5 Mya. The controversial evidence for such is a hadrosaur leg bone found from Paleocene
Paleocene
strata in New Mexico
Mexico
; but such stray late forms may be derived fossils .

BIRDS

Gastornis
Gastornis

Birds began to re-diversify during the epoch, occupying new niches. Genetic studies suggest that nearly all modern bird clades can trace their origin to this epoch, with Neornithes having undergone an extremely fast, "star-like" radiation of species in the early Palaeocene in response to the vacancy of niches left by the KT event .

Large flightless birds have been found in late Paleocene
Paleocene
deposits, including the omnivorous Gastornis
Gastornis
in Europe
Europe
and carnivorous terror birds in South America, the latter of which survived until the Pleistocene
Pleistocene
.

In the late Paleocene, early owl types appeared, such as Ogygoptynx in the United States
United States
and Berruornis in France
France
.

REFERENCES

* ^ Cohen, K.M.; Finney, S.; Gibbard, P.L. (2013), International Chronostratigraphic Chart (PDF), International Commission on Stratigraphy . * ^ Jones, Daniel (2003) , Peter Roach, James Hartmann and Jane Setter, eds., English Pronouncing Dictionary, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ISBN 3-12-539683-2 CS1 maint: Uses editors parameter (link ) * ^ "Paleocene". Online Etymology Dictionary
Online Etymology Dictionary
. * ^ Gavin A. Schmidt and Drew T. Shindell (2003). "Atmospheric composition, radiative forcing, and climate change as a consequence of a massive methane release from gas hydrates" (PDF). Paleoceanography. 18 (1). doi :10.1029/2002PA000757 . CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link ) * ^ "Science Notes 2003:". Scicom.ucsc.edu. Retrieved 2012-08-28. * ^ " Paleocene
Paleocene
Climate". PaleoMap Project . Retrieved 2012-08-28. * ^ A B C D Hooker, J.J., "Tertiary to Present: Paleocene", pp. 459-465, Vol. 5. of Selley, Richard C., L. Robin McCocks, and Ian R. Plimer, Encyclopedia of Geology, Oxford: Elsevier Limited, 2005. ISBN 0-12-636380-3 * ^ Vajda, Vivi. "Global Disruption of Vegetation at the Cretaceous-Tertiary Boundary – A Comparison Between the Northern and Southern Hemisphere Palynological Signals". Gsa.confex.com. Retrieved 2006-07-15. * ^ Bigelow, Phillip. "The K–T boundary In The Hell Creek Formation". Scn.org. Retrieved 2006-07-15. * ^ Stephen Jay Gould, ed., The Book of Life (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1993), p. 182. * ^ Kazlev, M. Alan (2002) "The Paleocene". Palaeos Cenozoic. Retrieved April 3, 2013. * ^ Musser, A. M. (2003). "Review of the monotreme fossil record and comparison of palaeontological and molecular data". Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology A. 136: 927–942. doi :10.1016/S1095-6433Ž03.00275-7 . Retrieved April 3, 2013. * ^ Fassett, JE, Lucas, SG, Zielinski, RA, and Budahn, JR (2001). "Compelling new evidence for Paleocene
Paleocene
dinosaurs in the Ojo Alamo Sandstone, San Juan Basin, New Mexico
Mexico
and Colorado, USA" (PDF). Catastrophic events and mass extinctions, Lunar and Planetary Contribution. 1053: 45–46. Retrieved 2007-05-18. CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link ) * ^ Sullivan, RM (2003). "No Paleocene
Paleocene
dinosaurs in the San Juan Basin, New Mexico". Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs. 35 (5): 15. Retrieved 2007-07-02. * ^ Linnéa Smeds, Hans Ellegren, The Dynamics of Incomplete Lineage Sorting across the Ancient Adaptive Radiation of Neoavian Birds

* Ogg, Jim (June 2004). "Overview of Global Boundary Stratotype Sections and Points (GSSP\'s)". Stratigraphy.org. Retrieved December 22, 2008.

EXTERNAL LINKS

Wikimedia Commons has media