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The Tertiary Period
Of the Cenozoic Era

 

 
 
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    Geologic time between the "Great Ice Age" (Pleistocene Epoch) and the "Age of the Dinosaurs" (Mesozoic Era) is known to geoscientists as the Tertiary Period.   This Period has been divided into five Epochs as follows:
 
  GEOLOGIC TIME UNITS MILLION YEARS BEFORE PRESENT*    
 
  • Pliocene epoch                                  1.8 to 5.3
  • Miocene epoch                                   5.3 to 23
  • Oligocene epoch                                 23 to 34
  • Eocene epoch                                    34 to 56
  • Paleocene epoch                                56 to 65
   
   *From Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia.    

During the Tertiary Period many life forms that existed and flourished during the Mesozoic Era vanished.   Dinosaurs were replaced by mammals as the dominant large land animals.   The evolutionary history of the primates, including the early ancestors of man, has been traced deep into the Tertiary Period.   For example, the Stone Age began in the Tertiary Period and ended during the Pleistocene Epoch (Ice Age).   Some evidence of life during The Tertiary Period is presented below:

 


Early Eocene Tapir (Heptodon posticus) some 50 million years ago.   Heptodon was an ancient relative of the modern tapirs and described as a primitive perissodactyl (odd-toed ungulate).   The fossil skeleton is as exhibited at the Harvard Museum of Natural History, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.   Photo by Flo Bruehl, July 19, 2008.


Middle Eocene Camel (Stenomylus hitchcocki).   This species was described as "gazelle-like", graceful and built for speed.   Although they were North American, they may have behaved more like a modern African gazelle.   They were adapted for life on open grassland.   Fossil evidence indicates that camels originated in North America during the middle Eocene.   The fossil skeleton is as exhibited at the Harvard Museum of Natural History, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.   Photo by Flo Bruehl, July 19, 2008.


Oligocene Horse (Mesohippus barbouri).   This specimen lived in South Dakota some 30 million years ago.   The fossil evidence indicates that it was adapted for browsing and had feet with three toes.   The middle toe was much larger than the other two.   The species is believed to have browsed on leaves and fruit.   The fossil skeleton is as exhibited at the Harvard Museum of Natural History, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.   Photo by Flo Bruehl, July 19, 2008.


Pliocene Horse (Equus simplicidens).   Described as a "grazing horse", superbly adapted for life on the open plains, this species emerged 5 million years ago during the beginning of the Pliocene epoch.   It was adapted for speed with long, streamlined legs that ended in a single toe.   It closely resembles a modern Zebra in structure.  
The fossil skeleton is as exhibited at the Harvard Museum of Natural History, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.   Photo by Flo Bruehl, July 19, 2008.


For more about prehistoric life go to our pages:

If you're looking for resources for geoprofessionals try our Resources Page.   Or if you're looking for books, computers, software and electronics try our Amazon Affiliate Store.   Much of the background information about prehistoric animals was obtained at the websites Enchanted Learning and Wikipedia.   Welcome to Dinosaur State Park is a website for Dinosaur State Park, Rocky Hill, Connecticut.
 

 
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
 

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