The apes arose and diversified during the Miocene epoch, becoming widespread in the Old World. In fact, by the end of this epoch, the ancestors of humans had split away from the ancestors of the chimpanzees to follow their own evolutionary path. As in the Oligocene before it, grasslands continued to expand and forests to dwindle in extent. In the Miocene seas, kelp forests made their first appearance and soon became one of Earth's most productive ecosystems.
Began: 23.8 million years ago
Ended: 5.3 million years ago
Reconstruction of the Earth in the Archean era, 3.8 billion - 2.5 billion years ago. Credit: Dr Ron Blakey, NAU Geology.
During this period the following extinction level events are thought to have occurred.
The Miocene (symbol MI) is a geological epoch of the Neogene Period and extends from about 23.03 to 5.332 million years ago (Ma). The Miocene was named by Sir Charles Lyell. Its name comes from the Greek words μείων (meiōn, “less”) and καινός (kainos, “new”) and means "less recent" because it has 18% fewer modern sea invertebrates than the Pliocene. The Miocene follows the Oligocene Epoch and is followed by the Pliocene Epoch. The Miocene is the first epoch of the Neogene Period.
The earth went from the Oligocene Epoch through the Miocene and into the Pliocene as it cooled into a series of Ice Ages. The Miocene boundaries are not marked by a single distinct global event but consist rather of regional boundaries between the warmer Oligocene and the cooler Pliocene.
The plants and animals of the Miocene were fairly modern. Mammals and birds were well-established. Whales, seals, and kelp spread. The Miocene Epoch is of particular interest to geologists and palaeoclimatologists as major phases of Himalayan Uplift had occurred during the Miocene Epoch affecting monsoonal patterns in Asia, which were interlinked with Northern Hemisphere glaciation.
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