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.
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