Animals and plants from the Tertiary period

Pliocene epoch

The Pliocene world looked very similar to Earth today as North and South America had been drifting ever closer and the gap between them was sealed in this epoch. At the start of the Pliocene, over 5 million years ago, the north polar ice cap came and went with the seasons and with fluctuations in climate. However, as the world cooled in the late Pliocene, ice at the North Pole became permanent and grassland and tundra thrived. The human lineage split away from the chimpanzees' early on in the epoch.

Began: 5.3 million years ago

Ended: 2.6 million years ago

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Causes of extinctions

During this period the following extinction level events are thought to have occurred.

Climate change Climate change
Earth's climate is not constant. Over geological time, the Earth's dominant climate has gone from ice age to tropical heat and from steamy jungles to searing deserts.

Types of fossils formed in this period

Trace fossils Trace fossils
It's not only the actual bodily remains of dead animals and plants that can become fossils. Things created or left behind by animals can also fossilise, such as their footprints, burrows and dung.