|23.03 – 5.333 Ma|
|Regional usage||Global (ICS)|
|Time scale(s) used||ICS Time Scale|
|Time span formality||Formal|
|Lower boundary definition|
|Lower boundary GSSP||Lemme-Carrosio Section, Carrosio, Italy |
|Upper boundary definition||Base of the Thvera magnetic event (C3n.4n), which is only 96 ka (5 precession cycles) younger than the GSSP|
|Upper boundary GSSP||Heraclea Minoa section, Heraclea Minoa, Cattolica Eraclea, Sicily, Italy|
The Miocene ( /, -/ MY-ə-seen, MY-oh- ) is the first geological epoch of the Neogene Period and extends from about (Ma). The Miocene was named by Scottish author 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 is preceded by the Oligocene and is followed by the Pliocene.
As the earth went from the Oligocene through the Miocene and into the Pliocene, the climate slowly cooled towards a series of ice ages. The Miocene boundaries are not marked by a single distinct global event but consist rather of regionally defined boundaries between the warmer Oligocene and the cooler Pliocene Epoch.
The apes first evolved, arose, and diversified during the early Miocene (Aquitanian and Burdigalian stages), becoming widespread in the Old World. By the end of this epoch and the start of the following one, the ancestors of humans had split away from the ancestors of the chimpanzees to follow their own evolutionary path during the final Messinian stage (7.5–5.3 Ma) of the Miocene. As in the Oligocene before it, grasslands continued to expand and forests to dwindle in extent. In the seas of the Miocene, kelp forests made their first appearance and soon became one of Earth's most productive ecosystems.
The plants and animals of the Miocene were recognizably modern. Mammals and birds were well-established. Whales, pinnipeds, and kelp spread.
The Miocene is of particular interest to geologists and palaeoclimatologists as major phases of the geology of the Himalaya occurred during the Miocene, affecting monsoonal patterns in Asia, which were interlinked with glacial periods in the northern hemisphere.
The Miocene faunal stages from youngest to oldest are typically named according to the International Commission on Stratigraphy:
|Sub-epoch||Faunal stage||Time range|
|Late Miocene||Messinian||7.246–5.333 Ma|
|Middle Miocene||Serravallian||13.65–11.608 Ma|
|Early Miocene||Burdigalian||20.43–15.97 Ma|
Regionally, other systems are used, based on characteristic land mammals; some of them overlap with the preceding Oligocene and following Pliocene epochs:
European Land Mammal Ages
North American Land Mammal Ages
South American Land Mammal Ages
Continents continued to drift toward their present positions. Of the modern geologic features, only the land bridge between South America and North America was absent,although South America was approaching the western subduction zone in the Pacific Ocean, causing both the rise of the Andes and a southward extension of the Meso-American peninsula.
Mountain building took place in western North America, Europe, and East Asia.Both continental and marine Miocene deposits are common worldwide with marine outcrops common near modern shorelines. Well studied continental exposures occur in the North American Great Plains and in Argentina.
India continued to collide with Asia, creating dramatic new mountain ranges. The Tethys seaway continued to shrink and then disappeared as Africa collided with Eurasia in the Turkish–Arabian region between 19 and 12 Ma.The subsequent uplift of mountains in the western Mediterranean region and a global fall in sea levels combined to cause a temporary drying up of the Mediterranean Sea (known as the Messinian salinity crisis) near the end of the Miocene.
The global trend was towards increasing aridity caused primarily by global cooling reducing the ability of the atmosphere to absorb moisture.Uplift of East Africa in the late Miocene was partly responsible for the shrinking of tropical rain forests in that region, and Australia got drier as it entered a zone of low rainfall in the Late Miocene.
During the Oligocene and Early Miocene the coast of northern Brazil,Colombia, south-central Peru, central Chile and large swathes of inland Patagonia were subject to a marine transgression. The transgressions in the west coast of South America are thought to be caused by a regional phenomenon while the steadily rising central segment of the Andes represents an exception. While there are numerous registers of Oligo-Miocene transgressions around the world it is doubtful that these correlate.
It is thought that the Oligo-Miocene transgression in Patagonia could have temporarily linked the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, as inferred from the findings of marine invertebrate fossils of both Atlantic and Pacific affinity in La Cascada Formation.Connection would have occurred through narrow epicontinental seaways that formed channels in a dissected topography.
The Antarctic Plate started to subduct beneath South America 14 million years ago in the Miocene, forming the Chile Triple Junction. At first the Antarctic Plate subducted only in the southernmost tip of Patagonia, meaning that the Chile Triple Junction lay near the Strait of Magellan. As the southern part of Nazca Plate and the Chile Rise became consumed by subduction the more northerly regions of the Antarctic Plate begun to subduct beneath Patagonia so that the Chile Triple Junction advanced to the north over time. km that reversed the Oligocene–Miocene transgression.The asthenospheric window associated to the triple junction disturbed previous patterns of mantle convection beneath Patagonia inducing an uplift of ca. 1
As the southern Andes rose in the Middle Miocene (14–12 million years ago) the resulting rain shadow originated the Patagonian Desert to the east.
Climates remained moderately warm, although the slow global cooling that eventually led to the Pleistocene glaciations continued.
Although a long-term cooling trend was well underway, there is evidence of a warm period during the Miocene when the global climate rivalled that of the Oligocene. The Miocene warming began 21 million years ago and continued until 14 million years ago, when global temperatures took a sharp drop—the Middle Miocene Climate Transition (MMCT). By 8 million years ago, temperatures dropped sharply once again, and the Antarctic ice sheet was already approaching its present-day size and thickness. Greenland may have begun to have large glaciers as early as 7 to 8 million years ago,although the climate for the most part remained warm enough to support forests there well into the Pliocene.
Life during the Miocene Epoch was mostly supported by the two newly formed biomes, kelp forests and grasslands. Grasslands allow for more grazers, such as horses, rhinoceroses, and hippos. Ninety-five percent of modern plants existed by the end of this epoch.
The coevolution of gritty, fibrous, fire-tolerant grasses and long-legged gregarious ungulates with high-crowned teeth, led to a major expansion of grass-grazer ecosystems, with roaming herds of large, swift grazers pursued by predators across broad sweeps of open grasslands, displacing desert, woodland, and browsers.
The higher organic content and water retention of the deeper and richer grassland soils, with long-term burial of carbon in sediments, produced a carbon and water vapor sink. This, combined with higher surface albedo and lower evapotranspiration of grassland, contributed to a cooler, drier climate.C4 grasses, which are able to assimilate carbon dioxide and water more efficiently than C3 grasses, expanded to become ecologically significant near the end of the Miocene between 6 and 7 million years ago. The expansion of grasslands and radiations among terrestrial herbivores correlates to fluctuations in CO2.
Cycads between 11.5 and 5 million years ago began to rediversify after previous declines in variety due to climatic changes, and thus modern cycads are not a good model for a "living fossil".Eucalyptus fossil leaves occur in the Miocene of New Zealand, where the genus is not native today, but have been introduced from Australia.
Both marine and continental fauna were fairly modern, although marine mammals were less numerous. Only in isolated South America and Australia did widely divergent fauna exist.
In the Early Miocene, several Oligocene groups were still diverse, including nimravids, entelodonts, and three-toed equids. Like in the previous Oligocene epoch, oreodonts were still diverse, only to disappear in the earliest Pliocene. During the later Miocene mammals were more modern, with easily recognizable canids, bears, procyonids, equids, beavers, deer, camelids, and whales, along with now extinct groups like borophagine canids, certain gomphotheres, three-toed horses, and hornless rhinos like Teleoceras and Aphelops . Islands began to form between South and North America in the Late Miocene, allowing ground sloths like Thinobadistes to island-hop to North America. The expansion of silica-rich C4 grasses led to worldwide extinctions of herbivorous species without high-crowned teeth.
A few basal mammal groups endured into this epoch in southern landmasses, including the South American dryolestoid Necrolestes and gondwanathere Patagonia and New Zealand's Saint Bathans mammal. Non-marsupial metatherians were also still around, such as the American and Eurasian herpetotheriids and peradectids such as Siamoperadectes , and the South American sparassodonts.
Unequivocally recognizable dabbling ducks, plovers, typical owls, cockatoos and crows appear during the Miocene. By the epoch's end, all or almost all modern bird groups are believed to have been present; the few post-Miocene bird fossils which cannot be placed in the evolutionary tree with full confidence are simply too badly preserved, rather than too equivocal in character. Marine birds reached their highest diversity ever in the course of this epoch.
Approximately 100 species of apes lived during this time, ranging throughout Africa, Asia and Europe and varying widely in size, diet, and anatomy. Due to scanty fossil evidence it is unclear which ape or apes contributed to the modern hominid clade, but molecular evidence indicates this ape lived between 7 and 8 million years ago.The first hominins (bipedal apes of the human lineage) appeared in Africa at the very end of the Miocene, including Sahelanthropus , Orrorin , and an early form of Ardipithecus ( A. kadabba ) The chimpanzee–human divergence is thought to have occurred at this time.
The expansion of grasslands in North America also led to an explosive radiation among snakes.Previously, snakes were a minor component of the North American fauna, but during the Miocene, the number of species and their prevalence increased dramatically with the first appearances of vipers and elapids in North America and the significant diversification of Colubridae (including the origin of many modern genera such as Nerodia , Lampropeltis , Pituophis and Pantherophis ).
In the oceans, brown algae, called kelp, proliferated, supporting new species of sea life, including otters, fish and various invertebrates.
Cetaceans attained their greatest diversity during the Miocene,with over 20 recognized genera of baleen whales in comparison to only six living genera. This diversification correlates with emergence of gigantic macro-predators such as megatoothed sharks and raptorial sperm whales. Prominent examples are C. megalodon and L. melvillei . Other notable large sharks were C. chubutensis , Isurus hastalis, and Hemipristis serra .
Crocodilians also showed signs of diversification during Miocene. The largest form among them was a gigantic caiman Purussaurus which inhabited South America.Another gigantic form was a false gharial Rhamphosuchus , which inhabited modern age India. A strange form, Mourasuchus also thrived alongside Purussaurus. This species developed a specialized filter-feeding mechanism, and it likely preyed upon small fauna despite its gigantic size.
The pinnipeds, which appeared near the end of the Oligocene, became more aquatic. A prominent genus was Allodesmus .A ferocious walrus, Pelagiarctos may have preyed upon other species of pinnipeds including Allodesmus.
Furthermore, South American waters witnessed the arrival of Megapiranha paranensis , which were considerably larger than modern age piranhas.
New Zealand's Miocene fossil record is particularly rich. Marine deposits showcase a variety of cetaceans and penguins, illustrating the evolution of both groups into modern representatives. The early Miocene Saint Bathans Fauna is the only Cenozoic terrestrial fossil record of the landmass, showcasing a wide variety of not only bird species, including early representatives of clades such as moas, kiwis and adzebills, but also a diverse herpetofauna of sphenodontians, crocodiles and turtle as well as a rich terrestrial mammal fauna composed of various species of bats and the enigmatic Saint Bathans Mammal.
There is evidence from oxygen isotopes at Deep Sea Drilling Program sites that ice began to build up in Antarctica about 36 Ma during the Eocene. Further marked decreases in temperature during the Middle Miocene at 15 Ma probably reflect increased ice growth in Antarctica. It can therefore be assumed that East Antarctica had some glaciers during the early to mid Miocene (23–15 Ma). Oceans cooled partly due to the formation of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, and about 15 million years ago the ice cap in the southern hemisphere started to grow to its present form. The Greenland ice cap developed later, in the Middle Pliocene time, about 3 million years ago.
The "Middle Miocene disruption" refers to a wave of extinctions of terrestrial and aquatic life forms that occurred following the Miocene Climatic Optimum (18 to 16 Ma), around 14.8 to 14.5 million years ago, during the Langhian stage of the mid-Miocene. A major and permanent cooling step occurred between 14.8 and 14.1 Ma, associated with increased production of cold Antarctic deep waters and a major growth of the East Antarctic ice sheet. A Middle Miocene δ18O increase, that is, a relative increase in the heavier isotope of oxygen, has been noted in the Pacific, the Southern Ocean and the South Atlantic.
A large impact event occurred either during the Miocene (23 Ma – 5.3 Ma) or the Pliocene (5.3 Ma – 2.6 Ma). The event formed the Karakul crater (52 km diameter), which is estimated to have an age of less than 23 Ma or less than 5 Ma.
The Cenozoic Era meaning "new life" is the current and most recent of the three geological eras of the Phanerozoic Eon. The Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event is the boundary between preceding Mesozoic era and the Cenozoic, which extends from 66 million years ago to the present day. Many species, including all non-avian dinosaurs, became extinct, in an event attributed by most experts to the impact of a large asteroid or other celestial body, the Chicxulub impactor.
The Eocene Epoch is a geological epoch that lasted from about 56 to 33.9 million years ago (mya). It is the second epoch of the Paleogene Period in the modern Cenozoic Era. The name Eocene comes from the Ancient Greek ἠώς and καινός and refers to the "dawn" of modern ('new') fauna that appeared during the epoch.
The Neogene is a geologic period and system that spans 20.45 million years from the end of the Paleogene Period 23.03 million years ago (Mya) to the beginning of the present Quaternary Period 2.58 Mya. The Neogene is sub-divided into two epochs, the earlier Miocene and the later Pliocene. Some geologists assert that the Neogene cannot be clearly delineated from the modern geological period, the Quaternary. The term "Neogene" was coined in 1853 by the Austrian palaeontologist Moritz Hörnes (1815–1868).
The Oligocene is a geologic epoch of the Paleogene Period and extends from about 33.9 million to 23 million years before the present. As with other older geologic periods, the rock beds that define the epoch are well identified but the exact dates of the start and end of the epoch are slightly uncertain. The name Oligocene was coined in 1854 by the German paleontologist Heinrich Ernst Beyrich; the name comes from the Ancient Greek ὀλίγος and καινός, and refers to the sparsity of extant forms of molluscs. The Oligocene is preceded by the Eocene Epoch and is followed by the Miocene Epoch. The Oligocene is the third and final epoch of the Paleogene Period.
The Pliocene Epoch is the epoch in the geologic timescale that extends from 5.333 million to 2.58 million years BP. 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 four 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.
The Phanerozoic Eon is the current geologic eon in the geologic time scale, and the one during which abundant animal and plant life has existed. It covers 541 million years to the present, and it began with the Cambrian Period when animals first developed hard shells preserved in the fossil record. The time before the Phanerozoic, called the Precambrian, is now divided into the Hadean, Archaean and Proterozoic eons.
Riversleigh World Heritage Area is Australia's most famous fossil location, recognised for the series of well preserved fossils deposited from the Late Oligocene to more recent geological periods. The fossiliferous limestone system is located near the Gregory River in the north-west of Queensland, an environment that was once a very wet rainforest that became more arid as the Gondwanan land masses separated and the Australian continent moved north. The approximately 100 square kilometres (39 sq mi) area has fossil remains of ancient mammals, birds, and reptiles of the Oligocene and Miocene ages, many of which were discovered and are only known from the Riversleigh area; the species that have occurred there are known as the Riversleigh fauna.
An inland sea is a shallow sea that covers central areas of continents during periods of high sea level that result in marine transgressions. In modern times, continents stand high, eustatic sea levels are low, and there are few inland seas, the largest being Hudson Bay. Modern examples might also include the recently reflooded Persian Gulf, and the South China Sea that presently covers the Sunda Shelf.
Megalonychidae is a group of sloths including the extinct Megalonyx. Megalonychids first appeared in the early Oligocene, about 35 million years (Ma) ago, in southern Argentina (Patagonia). There is actually one possible find dating to the Eocene, about 40 Ma ago, on Seymour Island in Antarctica. They first reached North America by island-hopping across the Central American Seaway, about 9 million years ago, prior to formation of the Isthmus of Panama about 2.7 million years ago. Some megalonychid lineages increased in size as time passed. The first species of these were small and may have been partly tree-dwelling, whereas the Pliocene species were already approximately half the size of the huge Late Pleistocene Megalonyx jeffersonii from the last ice age.
The Paratethys ocean, Paratethys sea or just Paratethys was a large shallow inland sea that stretched from the region north of the Alps over Central Europe to the Aral Sea in Central Asia. The sea was formed during the Oxfordian stage of the Late Jurassic as an extension of the rift that formed the Central Atlantic Ocean and was isolated during the Oligocene epoch. It was separated from the Tethys Ocean to the south by the formation of the Alps, Carpathians, Dinarides, Taurus and Elburz mountains. During its long existence the Paratethys was at times reconnected with the Tethys or its successors, the Mediterranean Sea or Indian Ocean. From the Pliocene epoch onward, the Paratethys became progressively shallower. Today's Black Sea, Caspian Sea, Aral Sea, Lake Urmia, Namak Lake and others are remnants of the Paratethys Sea.
The natural history of New Zealand began when the landmass Zealandia broke away from the supercontinent Gondwana in the Cretaceous period. Before this time, Zealandia shared its past with Australia and Antarctica. Since this separation, the New Zealand biota and landscape has evolved in near-isolation. The exclusively natural history of the country ended in about 1300 AD, when humans first settled, and the country's environmental history began. The period from 1300 AD to today coincides with the extinction of many of New Zealand's unique species that had evolved there.
The Chile Triple Junction is a geologic triple junction located on the seafloor of the Pacific Ocean off Taitao and Tres Montes Peninsula on the southern coast of Chile. Here three tectonic plates meet: the South American Plate, the Nazca Plate, and the Antarctic Plate. This triple junction is unusual in that it consists of a mid-oceanic ridge, the Chile Rise, being subducted under the South American Plate at the Peru–Chile Trench.
Gondwana or Gondwanaland was a supercontinent that existed from the Neoproterozoic and began to break up during the Jurassic, with the opening of the Drake Passage, separating South America and Antarctica occurring during the Eocene. Gondwana was not considered a supercontinent by the earliest definition, since the landmasses of Baltica, Laurentia, and Siberia were separated from it.
The cat gap is a period in the fossil record of approximately 25 to 18.5 million years ago in which there are few fossils of cats or cat-like species found in North America. The cause of the "cat gap" is disputed, but may have been caused by changes in the climate, changes in the habitat and environmental ecosystem, the increasingly hypercarnivorous trend of the cats, volcanic activity, evolutionary changes in dental morphology of the Canidae species present in North America, or a periodicity of extinctions called van der Hammen cycles.
The Andean orogeny is an ongoing process of orogeny that began in the Early Jurassic and is responsible for the rise of the Andes mountains. The orogeny is driven by a reactivation of a long-lived subduction system along the western margin of South America. On a continental scale the Cretaceous and Oligocene were periods of re-arrangements in the orogeny. Locally the details of the nature of the orogeny varies depending on the segment and the geological period considered.
The greater Turkana Basin in East Africa determines a large endorheic basin, a drainage basin with no outflow centered around the north-southwards directed Gregory Rift system in Kenya and southern Ethiopia. The deepest point of the basin is the endorheic Lake Turkana, a brackish soda lake with a very high ecological productivity in the Gregory Rift.
The Grit, not grass hypothesis is an evolutionary hypothesis that explains the evolution of high-crowned teeth, particularly in New World mammals. The hypothesis is that the ingestion of gritty soil is the primary driver of hypsodont tooth development, not the silica-rich composition of grass, as was previously thought.
The Vargas Formation is a sedimentary formation on the left bank of Palena River in the western Patagonian Andes of southern Chile. The formation is made of black shale and sandstone that deposited in the Late Oligocene or Early Miocene epoch some 26 million years ago. The formation has contact across a fault plane with granitoids of Cretaceous age of the North Patagonian Batholith.
The Late Cenozoic Ice Age, or Antarctic Glaciation began 33.9 million years ago at the Eocene-Oligocene Boundary and is ongoing. It is Earth's current ice age or icehouse period. Its beginning is marked by the formation of the Antarctic ice sheets. The Late Cenozoic Ice Age gets its name due to the fact that it covers roughly the last half of Cenozoic era so far.
Pisco Basin is a sedimentary basin extending over 300 kilometres (190 mi) in southwestern Peru. The basin has a 2 kilometres (6,600 ft) thick sedimentary fill, which is about half the thickness of more northern foreland basins in Peru.
|volume=has extra text (help)
|volume=has extra text (help) From p. 54: "The next antecedent tertiary epoch we shall name Miocene, from μειων, minor, and χαινος, recens, a minority only of fossil shells imbedded in the formations of this period, being of recent species."
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