|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 |
|Lower GSSP ratified||1996|
|Upper boundary definition|
|Upper boundary GSSP||Monte San Nicola Section, Gela, Sicily, Italy |
|Upper GSSP ratified||2009 (as base of Quaternary and Pleistocene)|
|Atmospheric and climatic data|
|Mean atmospheric O2 content||c. 21.5 vol %|
(108 % of modern)
|Mean atmospheric CO2 content||c. 280 ppm |
(1 times pre-industrial)
|Mean surface temperature||c. 14 °C|
(0 °C above modern)
The Neogene ( // NEE-ə-jeen, informally Upper Tertiary or Late Tertiary) 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).
During this period, mammals and birds continued to evolve into modern forms, while other groups of life remained relatively unchanged. The first humans ( Homo habilis ) appeared in Africa near the end of the period.Some continental movements took place, the most significant event being the connection of North and South America at the Isthmus of Panama, late in the Pliocene. This cut off the warm ocean currents from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean, leaving only the Gulf Stream to transfer heat to the Arctic Ocean. The global climate cooled considerably throughout the Neogene, culminating in a series of continental glaciations in the Quaternary Period that follows.
In ICS terminology, from upper (later, more recent) to lower (earlier):
The Pliocene Epoch is subdivided into two ages:
The Miocene Epoch is subdivided into six ages:
In different geophysical regions of the world, other regional names are also used for the same or overlapping ages and other timeline subdivisions.
The terms Neogene System (formal) and Upper Tertiary System (informal) describe the rocks deposited during the Neogene Period.
The continents in the Neogene were very close to their current positions. The Isthmus of Panama formed, connecting North and South America. The Indian subcontinent continued to collide with Asia, forming the Himalayas. Sea levels fell, creating land bridges between Africa and Eurasia and between Eurasia and North America.
The global climate became more seasonal and continued an overall drying and cooling trend which began during the Paleogene. The Early Miocene was relatively cool;Early Miocene mid-latitude seawater and continental thermal gradients were already very similar to those of the present. During the Middle Miocene, Earth entered a warm phase known as the Middle Miocene Climatic Optimum (MMCO), which was driven by the emplacement of the Columbia River Basalt Group. Around 11 Ma, the Middle Miocene Warm Interval gave way to the much cooler Late Miocene. The ice caps on both poles began to grow and thicken, a process enhanced by positive feedbacks from increased formation of sea ice. Between 7 and 5.3 Ma, a decrease in global temperatures termed the Late Miocene Cooling (LMC) ensued, driven by decreases in carbon dioxide concentrations. During the Middle Pliocene, another warm interval occurred, interrupting the longer-term cooling trend. By the end of the period the first of a series of glaciations of the current Ice Age began.
Marine and continental flora and fauna have a modern appearance. The reptile group Choristodera went extinct in the early part of the period, while the amphibians known as Allocaudata disappeared at the end of it. Neogene also marked the end of the reptilian genera Langstonia and Barinasuchus, terrestrial predators that were the last surviving members of Sebecosuchia, a group related to crocodiles. The oceans were dominated by large carnivores like megalodons and livyatans, and 19 million years ago about 70% of all pelagic shark species disappeared.Mammals and birds continued to be the dominant terrestrial vertebrates, and took many forms as they adapted to various habitats. The first hominins, the ancestors of humans may have appeared in southern Europe and migrated into Africa. The first humans (belonging to the species Homo habilis ) appeared in Africa near the end of the period.
About 20 million years ago gymnosperms in the form of some conifer and cycad groups started to diversify and produce more species due to the changing conditions. CO2 in the atmosphere, C4 plants expanded and reached ecological dominance in grasslands during the last 10 million years. Also Asteraceae (daisies) went through a significant adaptive radiation. Eucalyptus fossil leaves occur in the Miocene of New Zealand, where the genus is not native today, but have been introduced from Australia.In response to the cooler, seasonal climate, tropical plant species gave way to deciduous ones and grasslands replaced many forests. Grasses therefore greatly diversified, and herbivorous mammals evolved alongside it, creating the many grazing animals of today such as horses, antelope, and bison. Ice age mammals like the mammoths and woolly rhinoceros were common in Pliocene. With lower levels of
The Neogene traditionally ended at the end of the Pliocene Epoch, just before the older definition of the beginning of the Quaternary Period; many time scales show this division.
However, there was a movement amongst geologists (particularly marine geologists) to also include ongoing geological time (Quaternary) in the Neogene, while others (particularly terrestrial geologists) insist the Quaternary to be a separate period of distinctly different record. The somewhat confusing terminology and disagreement amongst geologists on where to draw what hierarchical boundaries is due to the comparatively fine divisibility of time units as time approaches the present, and due to geological preservation that causes the youngest sedimentary geological record to be preserved over a much larger area and to reflect many more environments than the older geological record.By dividing the Cenozoic Era into three (arguably two) periods (Paleogene, Neogene, Quaternary) instead of seven epochs, the periods are more closely comparable to the duration of periods in the Mesozoic and Paleozoic Eras.
The International Commission on Stratigraphy (ICS) once proposed that the Quaternary be considered a sub-era (sub-erathem) of the Neogene, with a beginning date of 2.58 Ma, namely the start of the Gelasian Stage. In the 2004 proposal of the ICS, the Neogene would have consisted of the Miocene and Pliocene Epochs.The International Union for Quaternary Research (INQUA) counterproposed that the Neogene and the Pliocene end at 2.58 Ma, that the Gelasian be transferred to the Pleistocene, and the Quaternary be recognized as the third period in the Cenozoic, citing key changes in Earth's climate, oceans, and biota that occurred 2.58 Ma and its correspondence to the Gauss-Matuyama magnetostratigraphic boundary. In 2006 ICS and INQUA reached a compromise that made Quaternary a sub-era, subdividing Cenozoic into the old classical Tertiary and Quaternary, a compromise that was rejected by International Union of Geological Sciences because it split both Neogene and Pliocene in two.
Following formal discussions at the 2008 International Geological Congress in Oslo, Norway,the ICS decided in May 2009 to make the Quaternary the youngest period of the Cenozoic Era with its base at 2.58 Mya and including the Gelasian Age, which was formerly considered part of the Neogene Period and Pliocene Epoch. Thus the Neogene Period ends bounding the succeeding Quaternary Period at 2.58 Mya.
The Cenozoic is Earth's current geological era, representing the last 66 million years of Earth's history. It is characterised by the dominance of mammals, birds, conifers and flowering plants, a cooling and drying climate, and the current configuration of continents. It is the latest of three geological eras since complex life evolved, preceded by the Mesozoic and Paleozoic. It started with the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event, when many species, including the 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 Miocene is the first geological epoch of the Neogene Period and extends from about μείων and καινός and means "less recent" because it has 18% fewer modern marine invertebrates than the Pliocene has. The Miocene is preceded by the Oligocene and is followed by the Pliocene.(Ma). The Miocene was named by Scottish geologist Charles Lyell; the name comes from the Greek words
The Pliocene is the epoch in the geologic time scale that extends from 5.333 million to 2.58 million years ago. It is the second and most recent 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 Pleistocene is the geological epoch that lasted from c. 2.58 million to 11,700 years ago, spanning the Earth's most recent period of repeated glaciations. Before a change was finally confirmed in 2009 by the International Union of Geological Sciences, the cutoff of the Pleistocene and the preceding Pliocene was regarded as being 1.806 million years Before Present (BP). Publications from earlier years may use either definition of the period. The end of the Pleistocene corresponds with the end of the last glacial period and also with the end of the Paleolithic age used in archaeology. The name is a combination of Ancient Greek πλεῖστος (pleîstos), meaning "most", and καινός, meaning "new".
The Phanerozoic is the current and the latest of the four geologic eons in the Earth's geologic time scale, covering the time period from 538.8 million years ago to the present. It is the eon during which abundant animal and plant life has proliferated, diversified and colonized various niches on the Earth's surface, beginning with the Cambrian period when animals first developed hard shells that can be clearly preserved in the fossil record. The time before the Phanerozoic, collectively called the Precambrian, is now divided into the Hadean, Archaean and Proterozoic eons.
The Quaternary is the current and most recent of the three periods of the Cenozoic Era in the geologic time scale of the International Commission on Stratigraphy (ICS). It follows the Neogene Period and spans from 2.58 million years ago to the present. The Quaternary Period is divided into two epochs: the Pleistocene and the Holocene although a third epoch, the Anthropocene, has been proposed but is not officially recognised by the ICS.
Tertiary is an obsolete term for the geologic period from 66 million to 2.6 million years ago. The period began with the demise of the non-avian dinosaurs in the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event, at the start of the Cenozoic Era, and extended to the beginning of the Quaternary glaciation at the end of the Pliocene Epoch. The time span covered by the Tertiary has no exact equivalent in the current geologic time system, but it is essentially the merged Paleogene and Neogene periods, which are informally called the Early Tertiary and the Late Tertiary, respectively.
The International Commission on Stratigraphy (ICS), sometimes unofficially referred to as the "International Stratigraphic Commission", is a daughter or major subcommittee grade scientific daughter organization that concerns itself with stratigraphical, geological, and geochronological matters on a global scale.
There have been five or six major ice ages in the history of Earth over the past 3 billion years. The Late Cenozoic Ice Age began 34 million years ago, its latest phase being the Quaternary glaciation, in progress since 2.58 million years ago.
The Yarmouthian stage and the Yarmouth Interglacial were part of a now obsolete geologic timescale of the early Quaternary of North America.
The Zanclean is the lowest stage or earliest age on the geologic time scale of the Pliocene. It spans the time between 5.332 ± 0.005 Ma and 3.6 ± 0.005 Ma. It is preceded by the Messinian Age of the Miocene Epoch, and followed by the Piacenzian Age.
The Gelasian is an age in the international geologic timescale or a stage in chronostratigraphy, being the earliest or lowest subdivision of the Quaternary Period/System and Pleistocene Epoch/Series. It spans the time between 2.58 Ma and 1.80 Ma. It follows the Piacenzian Stage and is followed by the Calabrian Stage.
The Piacenzian is in the international geologic time scale the upper stage or latest age of the Pliocene. It spans the time between 3.6 ± 0.005 Ma and 2.588 ± 0.005 Ma. The Piacenzian is after the Zanclean and is followed by the Gelasian.
Calabrian is a subdivision of the Pleistocene Epoch of the geologic time scale, defined as 1.8 Ma—774,000 years ago ± 5,000 years, a period of ~.
The Serravallian is, in the geologic timescale, an age or a stage in the middle Miocene Epoch/Series, which spans the time between 13.82 Ma and 11.63 Ma. The Serravallian follows the Langhian and is followed by the Tortonian.
The Blancan North American Stage on the geologic timescale is the North American faunal stage according to the North American Land Mammal Ages chronology (NALMA), typically set from 4,750,000 to 1,806,000 years BP, a period of. It is usually considered to start in the early-mid Pliocene Epoch and end by the early Pleistocene. The Blancan is preceded by the Hemphillian and followed by the Irvingtonian NALMA stages.
The Pre-Illinoian Stage is used by Quaternary geologists for the early and middle Pleistocene glacial and interglacial periods of geologic time in North America from ~2.5–0.2 Ma.
The European Land Mammal Mega Zones are zones in rock layers that have a specific assemblage of fossils (biozones) based on occurrences of fossil assemblages of European land mammals. These biozones cover most of the Cenozoic, with particular focus having been paid to the Neogene and Paleogene systems, the Quaternary has several competing systems. In cases when fossils of mammals are abundant, stratigraphers and paleontologists can use these biozones as a more practical regional alternative to the stages of the official ICS geologic timescale. European Land Mammal Mega Zones are often also confusingly referred to as ages, stages, or intervals.
The Early Pleistocene is an unofficial sub-epoch in the international geologic timescale in chronostratigraphy, being the earliest division of the Pleistocene Epoch within the ongoing Quaternary Period. It is currently estimated to span the time between 2.580 ± 0.005 Ma and 0.773 ± 0.005 Ma. The term Early Pleistocene applies to both the Gelasian Age and the Calabrian Age.
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.
From p. 806: "Das häufige Vorkommen der Wiener Mollusken … im trennenden Gegensatze zu den eocänen zusammenzufassen." (The frequent occurrence of Viennese mollusks in typical Miocene as well as in typical Pliocene deposits motivated me – in order to avoid the perpetual monotony [of providing] details about the deposits – to subsume both deposits provisionally under the name "Neogene" (νεος new and γιγνομαι to arise) in distinguishing contrast to the Eocene.)