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
Grassland and grazing animals dominated three million years ago.
Computer graphics recreate some of the animals that lived in Ethiopia during the Pliocene, 3 million years ago. Grassland and grazing animals dominated the landscape.
During this period the following extinction level events are thought to have occurred.
The Pliocene (/ˈplaɪəsiːn/; also Pleiocene) Epoch (symbol PO) is the period in the geologic timescale that extends from 5.332 million to 2.588 million years before present. It is the second and youngest epoch of the Neogene Period in the Cenozoic Era. The Pliocene follows the Miocene Epoch and is followed by the Pleistocene Epoch. Prior to the 2009 revision of the geologic time scale, which placed the 4 most recent major glaciations entirely within the Pleistocene, the Pliocene also included the Gelasian stage, 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 are not set at an easily identified worldwide event but rather at regional boundaries between the warmer Miocene and the relatively cooler Pleistocene. The upper boundary was set at the start of the Pleistocene glaciations.
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