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The PLIOCENE ( /ˈplaɪəˌsiːn/ ; also PLEIOCENE ) Epoch is the epoch in the geologic timescale that extends from 5.333 million to 2.58 million years BP . It is the second and youngest epoch of the Neogene
Neogene
Period in the Cenozoic
Cenozoic
Era . The Pliocene
Pliocene
follows the Miocene Epoch and is followed by the Pleistocene
Pleistocene
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
Pliocene
also included the Gelasianstage, 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
Pliocene
are not set at an easily identified worldwide event but rather at regional boundaries between the warmer Miocene
Miocene
and the relatively cooler Pliocene. The upper boundary was set at the start of the Pleistocene
Pleistocene
glaciations.

CONTENTS

* 1 Etymology * 2 Subdivisions * 3 Climate * 4 Paleogeography * 5 Flora

* 6 Fauna

* 6.1 Mammals * 6.2 Birds * 6.3 Reptiles and amphibians

* 7 Oceans * 8 Supernovae * 9 See also * 10 References * 11 Further reading * 12 External links

ETYMOLOGY

Human timeline view • discuss • edit -10 — – -9 — – -8 — – -7 — – -6 — – -5 — – -4 — – -3 — – -2 — – -1 — – 0 — Human-like apes _ Nakalipithecus_ _ Ouranopithecus
Ouranopithecus
_ _ Sahelanthropus
Sahelanthropus
_ _ Orrorin
Orrorin
_ _ Ardipithecus
Ardipithecus
_ _ Australopithecus
Australopithecus
_ _HOMO HABILIS _ _HOMO ERECTUS _ _NEANDERTHAL _ _HOMO SAPIENS _ ← Earlier apes ← Possibly bipedal ← Earliest bipedal ← Earliest stone tools ← Earliest exit from Africa
Africa
← Earliest fire use ← Earliest cooking ← Earliest clothes ← Modern humans P l e i s t o c e n e P l i o c e n e M i o c e n e H

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s Axis scale : millions of years . Also see: _Life timeline _ and _Nature timeline _

Charles Lyell
Charles Lyell
(later Sir Charles) gave the Pliocene
Pliocene
its name in _Principles of Geology_ (volume 2, 1833). The word _pliocene_ comes from the Greek words πλεῖον (_pleion_, "more") and καινός (_kainos_, "new" or "recent") and means roughly "continuation of the recent", referring to the essentially modern marine mollusc fauna.

H.W. Fowler called the term _Pliocene_ (like other geological jargon such as _pleistocene_ and _miocene_) a "regrettable barbarism" and an indication that even "a good classical scholar" such as Lyell should have requested a philologist\'s help when coining words.

To summarize the usage of these _"regrettable barbarisms"_ in the labelling of the Cenozoic
Cenozoic
("recent life") era (from youngest to oldest):

EPOCH LITERALLY FIRST ELEMENT SECOND ELEMENT

Pleistocene
Pleistocene
MOST-NEW πλεῖστος _pleīstos_ "most" καινός, _kainós_ (Latinized as cænus) "new"

Pliocene MORE-NEW πλεῖον _pleion_ "more" καινός _kainos_ "new"

Miocene
Miocene
LESS-NEW μείων _meiōn_ “less” καινός _kainos_ “new”

Oligocene
Oligocene
FEW-NEW ὀλίγος _oligos_ "few" καινός _kainos_ "new"

Eocene
Eocene
DAWN-NEW ἠώς _ēṓs_ "dawn" καινός _kainós_ "new"

Paleocene
Paleocene
OLD-NEW παλαιός _palaios_ "old(er)" καινός _kainos_ "new"

with the understanding that these are all _new_ relative to the Mesozoic
Mesozoic
("middle life" - the age of dinosaurs ) and Paleozoic
Paleozoic
("old life") - Trilobites
Trilobites
, coal forests , and the earliest Synapsida
Synapsida
) eras.

SUBDIVISIONS

In the official timescale of the ICS , the Pliocene
Pliocene
is subdivided into two stages . From youngest to oldest they are:

* Piacenzian(3.600–2.58 Ma) * Zanclean(5.333–3.600 Ma)

The Piacenzianis sometimes referred to as the Late Pliocene, whereas the Zancleanis referred to as the Early Pliocene.

In the system of

* North American Land Mammal Ages(NALMA) include Hemphillian (9–4.75 Ma), and Blancan(4.75–1.806 Ma). The Blancanextends forward into the Pleistocene
Pleistocene
. * South American Land Mammal Ages(SALMA) include Montehermosan (6.8–4.0 Ma), Chapadmalalan(4.0–3.0 Ma) and Uquian(3.0–1.2 Ma).

In the Paratethys
Paratethys
area (central Europe
Europe
and parts of western Asia) the Pliocene
Pliocene
contains the Dacian (roughly equal to the Zanclean) and Romanian (roughly equal to the Piacenzianand Gelasiantogether) stages. As usual in stratigraphy, there are many other regional and local subdivisions in use.

In Britain the Pliocene
Pliocene
is divided into the following stages (old to young): Gedgravian, Waltonian , Pre-Ludhamian, Ludhamian, Thurnian, Bramertonian or Antian, Pre-Pastonianor Baventian, Pastonian and Beestonian . In the Netherlands
Netherlands
the Pliocene
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 exact correlations between these local stages and the ICS stages is still a matter of detail.

CLIMATE

Main article: Pliocene climate Mid- Pliocene
Pliocene
reconstructed annual sea surface temperature anomaly

The global average temperature in the mid- Pliocene
Pliocene
(3.3–3 mya) was 2–3 °C higher than today, and carbon dioxide levels were the same as today, global sea level 25 m higher and the Northern hemisphere ice sheet was ephemeral before the onset of extensive glaciation over Greenland that occurred in the late Pliocene
Pliocene
around 3 Ma. The formation of an Arctic ice cap is signaled by an abrupt shift in oxygen isotope ratios and ice-rafted cobbles in the North Atlantic
Atlantic
and North Pacific ocean
Pacific ocean
beds. Mid-latitude glaciation was probably underway before the end of the epoch. The global cooling that occurred during the Pliocene
Pliocene
may have spurred on the disappearance of forests and the spread of grasslands and savannas.

PALEOGEOGRAPHY

Examples of migrant species in the Americas after the formation of the Isthmus of Panama. Olive green silhouettes denote North American species with South American ancestors; blue silhouettes denote South American species of North American origin.

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
became linked to North America through the Isthmus of Panama
Isthmus of Panama
during the Pliocene, making possible the Great American Interchange
Great American Interchange
and bringing a nearly complete end to South America's distinctive large marsupial predator and native ungulate faunas. The formation of the Isthmus had major consequences on global temperatures, since warm equatorial ocean currents were cut off and an Atlantic
Atlantic
cooling cycle began, with cold Arctic and Antarctic waters dropping temperatures in the now-isolated Atlantic
Atlantic
Ocean.

Africa
Africa
's collision with Europe
Europe
formed the Mediterranean Sea
Mediterranean Sea
, cutting off the remnants of the Tethys Ocean. The border between the Miocene
Miocene
and the Pliocene
Pliocene
is also the time of the Messiniansalinity crisis .

Sea level changes exposed the land-bridge between Alaska
Alaska
and Asia.

Pliocene
Pliocene
marine rocks are well exposed in the Mediterranean, India
India
, and China
China
. Elsewhere, they are exposed largely near shores.

FLORA

The change to a cooler, dry, seasonal climate had considerable impacts on Pliocene
Pliocene
vegetation, reducing tropical species worldwide. Deciduous
Deciduous
forests proliferated, coniferous forests and tundra covered much of the north, and grasslands spread on all continents (except Antarctica). Tropical forests were limited to a tight band around the equator, and in addition to dry savannahs , 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 australopithecines , appeared in the Pliocene.

The land mass collisions meant great migration and mixing of previously isolated species, such as in the Great American Interchange . Herbivores
Herbivores
got bigger, as did specialized predators.

*

The gastropod _ Oliva sayana
Oliva sayana
_, from the Pliocene
Pliocene
of Florida
Florida
. *

The coral _ Cladocora
Cladocora
_ from the Pliocene
Pliocene
of Cyprus
Cyprus
. *

A gastropod and attached serpulid wormtube from the Pliocene
Pliocene
of Cyprus. *

The gastropod _ Turritellacarinata_ from the Pliocene
Pliocene
of Cyprus. *

The thorny oyster _ Spondylus_ right and left valve interiors from the Pliocene
Pliocene
of Cyprus. *

Articulated _Spondylus_ from the Pliocene
Pliocene
of Cyprus. *

The limpet _Diodora italica_ from the Pliocene
Pliocene
of Cyprus. *

The scaphopod _Dentalium _ from the Pliocene
Pliocene
of Cyprus. *

The gastropod _ Aporrhais_ from the Pliocene
Pliocene
of Cyprus. *

The arcid bivalve _ Anadara
Anadara
_ from the Pliocene
Pliocene
of Cyprus. *

The pectenid bivalve _Ammusium cristatum_ from the Pliocene
Pliocene
of Cyprus. *

Vermetid gastropod _ Petaloconchus intortus_ attached to a branch of the coral _Cladocora_ from the Pliocene
Pliocene
of Cyprus
Cyprus
.

MAMMALS

In North America, rodents , large mastodons and gomphotheres , and opossums continued successfully, while hoofed animals (ungulates ) declined, with camel , deer and horse all seeing populations recede. Rhinos , three toed horses (_ Nannippus
Nannippus
_), oreodonts , protoceratids , and chalicotheres became extinct. Borophagine dogs and _ Agriotherium_ became extinct, but other carnivores including the weasel family diversified, and dogs and short-faced bears did well. Ground sloths , huge glyptodonts , and armadillos came north with the formation of the Isthmus of Panama.

In Eurasia
Eurasia
rodents did well, while primate distribution declined. Elephants , gomphotheres and stegodonts were successful in Asia, and hyraxes migrated north from Africa. Horse
Horse
diversity declined, while tapirs and rhinos did fairly well. Cows and antelopes were successful, and some camel species crossed into Asia from North America. Hyenas and early saber-toothed cats appeared, joining other predators including dogs, bears and weasels.

HUMAN EVOLUTION DURING THE PLIOCENE

Pliocene
Pliocene
mammals of North America

Africa
Africa
was dominated by hoofed animals, and primates continued their evolution, with australopithecines (some of the first hominins ) appearing in the late Pliocene. Rodents
Rodents
were successful, and elephant populations increased. Cows and antelopes continued diversification and overtaking pigs in numbers of species. Early giraffes appeared, and camels migrated via Asia from North America. Horses and modern rhinos came onto the scene. Bears, dogs and weasels (originally from North America) joined cats, hyenas and civets as the African predators, forcing hyenas to adapt as specialized scavengers.

South America
South America
was invaded by North American species for the first time since the Cretaceous
Cretaceous
, with North American rodents and primates mixing with southern forms. Litopterns and the notoungulates , South American natives, were mostly wiped out, except for the macrauchenids and toxodonts , which managed to survive. Small weasel-like carnivorous mustelids , coatis and short-faced bears migrated from the north. Grazing glyptodonts , browsing giant ground sloths and smaller caviomorph rodents , pampatheres , and armadillos did the opposite, migrating to the north and thriving there.

The marsupials remained the dominant Australian mammals, with herbivore forms including wombats and kangaroos , and the huge _ Diprotodon
Diprotodon
_. Carnivorous marsupials continued hunting in the Pliocene, including dasyurids , the dog-like thylacine and cat-like _ Thylacoleo
Thylacoleo
_. The first rodents arrived in Australia. The modern platypus , a monotreme , appeared.

BIRDS

_ Titanis_

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, some now extinct.

REPTILES AND AMPHIBIANS

Alligators and crocodiles died out in Europe
Europe
as the climate cooled. Venomous snake
Venomous snake
genera continued to increase as more rodents and birds evolved. Rattlesnakes first appeared in the Pliocene. The modern species _ Alligator
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
Miocene
deposits of Tennessee
Tennessee
. Giant tortoises still thrived in North America, with genera like _ Hesperotestudo_. Madtsoid snakes were still present in Australia. The amphibian order Allocaudata became extinct.

OCEANS

Oceans continued to be relatively warm during the Pliocene, though they continued cooling. The 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
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
Cretaceous
and the early Cenozoic
Cenozoic
. This may have contributed to further cooling of the oceans worldwide.

The Pliocene
Pliocene
seas were alive with sea cows , seals ,sea lions and sharks .

SUPERNOVAE

In 2002, Narciso Benítez _et al._ calculated that roughly 2 million years ago, around the end of the Pliocene
Pliocene
epoch, a group of bright O and B stars called the Scorpius-Centaurus OB associationpassed within 130 light-years of Earth and that one or more supernova explosions gave rise to a feature known as the Local Bubble
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).

SEE ALSO

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

REFERENCES

* ^ "Pliocene". _ Merriam-Webster
Merriam-Webster
Dictionary _. * ^ "Pliocene". _ Dictionary.comUnabridged_. Random House
Random House
. * ^ "Pleiocene". _ Dictionary.comUnabridged_. Random House
Random House
. * ^ See the 2014 version of the ICS geologic time scale Archived 2014-05-30 at the Wayback Machine
Wayback Machine
. * ^ Ogg, James George; Ogg, Gabi; Gradstein F. M. (2008). _The Concise Geologic Time Scale_. Cambridge University
Cambridge University
Press. pp. 150–1. ISBN 9780521898492 . * ^ Compare the usage by William Whewell
William Whewell
in 1831 ("Pliocene". _ Oxford English Dictionary
Oxford English Dictionary
_ (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press
Oxford University Press
. September 2005. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)). * ^ "Pliocene". Online Etymology Dictionary
Online Etymology Dictionary
. * ^ Fowler, H.W. (2009). David Crystal, ed. _A Dictionary of Modern English Usage: The Classic First Edition_ (Reissue ed.). USA: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-953534-5 . * ^ Kuhlmann, G.; C.G. Langereis; D. Munsterman; R.-J. van Leeuwen; R. Verreussel; J.E. Meulenkamp; Th.E. Wong (2006). "Integrated chronostratigraphy of the Pliocene- Pleistocene
Pleistocene
interval and its relation to the regional stratigraphical stages in the southern North Sea region". _ Netherlands
Netherlands
Journal of Geosciences_. 85: 19–35. doi :10.1017/S0016774600021405 . * ^ Robinson, M.; Dowsett, H.J.; Chandler, M.A. (2008). "Pliocene role in assessing future climate impacts" (PDF). _Eos Trans. Amer. Geophys. U_. 89: 501–502. Bibcode:2008EOSTr..89..501R. doi :10.1029/2008eo490001 . * ^ "Solutions: Responding to Climate Change". _Climate.Nasa.gov_. Retrieved 1 September 2016. * ^ Dwyer, G.S.; Chandler, M.A. (2009). "Mid- Pliocene
Pliocene
sea level and continental ice volume based on coupled benthic Mg/Ca palaeotemperatures and oxygen isotopes". _Phil. Trans. Royal Soc. A_. 367: 157–168. doi :10.1098/rsta.2008.0222 . * ^ Bartoli, G.; et al. (2005). "Final closure of Panama and the onset of northern hemisphere glaciation". _Earth Planet. Sci. Lett_. 237: 3344. CS1 maint: Explicit use of et al. (link ) * ^ Van Andel (1994), p. 226. * ^ "The Pliocene
Pliocene
epoch". _University of California Museum of Paleontology_. Retrieved 2008-03-25. * ^ Narciso Benítez, Jesús Maíz-Apellániz, and Matilde Canelles et al. (2002). "Evidence for Nearby Supernova
Supernova
Explosions". _Phys. Rev. Lett. _ 88 (8): 081101. Bibcode:2002PhRvL..88h1101B. PMID 11863949 . doi :10.1103/PhysRevLett.88.081101 . CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link ) * ^ Katie Pennicott (Feb 13, 2002). " Supernova
Supernova
link to ancient extinction". _physicsworld.com_. Retrieved 16 July 2012. * ^ Comins William J. Kaufmann III (2005). _Discovering the Universe_ (7th ed.). New York, NY: Susan Finnemore Brennan. ISBN 0-7167-7584-0 . * Gradstein, F.M.; Ogg, J.G. 2004: _A Geologic Time Scale 2004_, Cambridge University
Cambridge University
Press. * Ogg, Jim (June 2004). "Overview of Global Boundary Stratotype Sections and Points (GSSP\'s)". Archived from the original on 2006-04-23. Retrieved 2006-04-30. * Van Andel, Tjeerd H. (1994). _New Views on an Old Planet: a History of Global Change_ (2nd ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-44243-5 .

EXTERNAL LINKS

_ Wikimedia Commons has media related to PLIOCENE _.

_ Wikisource has original works on the topic: CENOZOIC#NEOGENE _

* Mid- Pliocene
Pliocene
Global Warming: NASA/GISS Climate

.