Timeline of environmental history

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This timeline lists events in the external environment that have influenced events in human history. This timeline is for use with the article on environmental determinism. For the history of humanity's influence on the environment, and humanity's perspective on this influence, see timeline of history of environmentalism. See List of periods and events in climate history for a timeline list focused on climate.

Contents

Pre-Holocene (1.5 Ma)

The time from roughly 15,000 to 5,000 BCE was a time of transition, and swift and extensive environmental change, as the planet was moving from an Ice age, towards an interstadial (warm period). Sea levels rose dramatically (and are continuing to do so), land that was depressed by glaciers began lifting up again, forests and deserts expanded, and the climate gradually became more modern. In the process of warming up, the planet saw several "cold snaps" and "warm snaps", such as the Older Dryas and the Holocene climatic optimum, as well as heavier precipitation. In addition, the Pleistocene megafauna became extinct due to environmental and evolutionary pressures from the changing climate. This marked the end of the Quaternary extinction event, which was continued into the modern era by humans. The time around 11,700 years ago (9,700 BC) is widely considered to be the end of the old age (Pleistocene, Paleolithic, Stone Age, Wisconsin Ice Age), and the beginning of the modern world as we know it.

Year(s)Event(s)
StartEnd
c. 2,588,000 BCc. 12,000 BC Pleistocene era
c. 21,000 BC Recent evidence indicates that humans processed (gathered) and consumed wild cereal grains as far back as 23,000 years ago. [1]
c. 20,000 BC Antarctica sees a very rapid and abrupt 6 °C increase in temperatures [2]
c. 19,000 BC Last Glacial Maximum/sea-level minimum
c. 20,000 BCc. 12,150 BC Mesolithic 1 period
c. 17,000 BCc. 13,000 BC Oldest Dryas stadial (cool period) during the last Ice age/glaciation in Europe.
c. 13,000 BCBeginning of the Holocene extinction. Earliest evidence of warfare.

Meltwater pulse 1A raises sea level 20 meters. Missoula floods occur.

c. 12,670 BCc. 12,000 BC Bølling oscillation interstadial (warm and moist period) between the Oldest Dryas and Older Dryas stadials (cool periods) at the end of the Last glacial period. In places where the Older Dryas was not seen, it is known as the Bølling–Allerød warming.
c.12,340 BC c.11,140 BC Cemetery 117: site of the world's first known battle/war.
c.12,500 BC c.10,800 BC Natufian culture begins minor agriculture
c. 12,150 BCc. 11,140 BC Mesolithic 2 (Natufian culture), some sources have Mesolithic 2 ending at 9500 BC
c. 12,000 BCc. 11,700 BC Older Dryas stadial (cool period)
c. 11,700 BCc. 10,800 BC Allerød oscillation
c.13,000 BC c.11,000 BC Lake Agassiz forms from glacial meltwater. It bursts and floods out through the Mackenzie River into the Arctic Ocean at 11,000 BC, possibly causing the Younger Dryas cold period.
c. 12,000 BCc. 8,000 BC Göbekli Tepe, world's earliest known temple-like structure, is created.
c. 10,800 BC Younger Dryas impact event is proposed to have occurred, causing the onset of the Younger Dryas.
c. 10,800 BC Younger Dryas cold period begins.
c. 10,000 BC

10th millennium BC

Year(s)Event(s)
StartEnd
c. 9700 BC
c. 9660 to c. 9600 BC Younger Dryas cold period ends. Pleistocene ends and Holocene begins. Large amounts of previously glaciated land become habitable again. Some sources place the Younger Dryas as stretching from 10,800 BC to 9500 BC. This cool period was possibly caused by a shutdown of the North Atlantic thermohaline circulation (Gulf Stream/Jet Stream), due to flooding from Lake Agassiz as it reformed.
c. 9500 BC
c. 9270 BC Greenland sees an abrupt and rapid 4 °C rise in temperatures [5]
c. 9000 BCFirst stone structures at Jericho built.

9th millennium BC

Year(s)Event(s)
StartEnd
c. 8500 BC to 7370 Jericho is established as one of the oldest cities in the world sometime between 8500 BC and 7370 BC
c. 8000 BC

8th millennium BC

Year(s)Event(s)
StartEnd
c. 7900 BCc. 7700 BC Lake Agassiz refills from glacial melt-water around 7900 BC as Glaciers retreat north
c. 7640 BCDate theorized for impact of Tollmann's hypothetical bolide with Earth and associated global cataclysm.
c. 7500 BC
7500–7000 BC3500–3000 BC Neolithic Subpluvial begins in northern Africa, Mesolithic period ends. Until about 5000 BC, the Sahara desert is substantially wetter than today, comparable to a savannah as part of the African humid period.

7th millennium BC

Year(s)Event(s)
StartEnd
c. 6600 BC Jiahu symbols, carved on tortoise shells in Jiahu, Northern China
c. 6500 BC
c.6440±25 BC Kurile volcano on Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula has VEI 7 eruption. It is one of the largest of the Holocene epoch
c. 6400 BCLake Agassiz drains into oceans for the final time, leaving Lakes Manitoba, Winnipeg, Winnipegosis, and Lake of the Woods, among others in the region, as its remnants. The draining may have caused the 8.2 kiloyear event, 200 years later
c. 6200 BC 8.2-kiloyear event, a sudden significant cooling episode
c. 6100 BCThe Storegga Slide, causing a megatsunami in the Norwegian Sea
c. 6000 BC
  • Climatic or Thermal Maximum, the warmest period in the past 125,000 years, with minimal glaciation and highest sea levels. (McEvedy)
  • Rising sea levels form the Torres Strait, separate Australia from New Guinea.
  • Increasing desiccation of the Sahara. End of the Saharan Pluvial period.
  • Associated with Pollen Zone VI Atlantic, oak-elm woodlands, warmer and maritime climate. Modern wild fauna plus, increasingly, human introductions, associated with the spread of the Neolithic farming technologies.
  • Rising sea levels from glacial retreat flood what will become the Irish Sea, separating the island of Ireland from the British Isles and Continental Europe.

6th millennium BC

Year(s)Event(s)
StartEnd
c. 5600 BCAccording to the Black Sea deluge theory, the Black Sea floods with salt water. Some 3000 cubic miles (12,500 km³) of salt water is added, significantly expanding it and transforming it from a fresh-water landlocked lake into a salt water sea.
c. 5500 BCBeginning of the desertification of north Africa, which ultimately leads to the formation of the Sahara desert from land that was previously savannah, though it remains wetter than today. It's possible this process pushed people in the area into migrating to the region of the Nile in the east, thereby laying the groundwork for the rise of Egyptian civilization.
c. 5300 BC
c. 5000 BC
5000 BC700 BC Megalithic Temples of Malta were created

5th millennium BC

Year(s)Event(s)
StartEnd
c. 4570 BCc. 4250 BC Merimde culture on the Nile River
4400 BC3500 BC Amratian/Naqada I culture in Predynastic Egypt
4000 BC3100 BC Uruk period begins in Mesopotamia

4th millennium BC

Year(s)Event(s)
StartEnd
3900 BC
3600 BC2800 BC
  • Climatic deterioration in Western Europe and the Sahara as the African humid period ends.
  • In Europe Pollen zone VII Sub Boreal, oak and beech.
  • Glacial advances of the Piora oscillation, with lower economic prosperity in areas not able to irrigate in the Middle East.
3500 BC to 3000 BCThe end of the Neolithic Subpluvial era and return of extremely hot and dry conditions in the Sahara Desert, hastened by the 5.9 kiloyear event and the Piora Oscillation.
3500 BC3200 BC Gerzeh/Naqada II culture in Egypt
3200 BC3000 BC Naqada III and Protodynastic Period of Egypt
3100 BC2686 BC Early Dynastic Period of Egypt. The hallmarks of Ancient Egypt (art, architecture, religion) all formed during this period. This is widely assumed to be the time and place of the first writing system, the Egyptian hieroglyphs (date is disputed, some claim they were used as far back as 3200 BC, while others believe they weren't invented until the 28th century BC).
between 3000 BC and 2800 BC30 km/19 mi-wide Burckle Crater is formed in Indian Ocean from a possible meteor or comet impact.

3rd millennium BC

Year(s)Event(s)
StartEnd
c. 30th century BC
  • c. 3000 BC: Stonehenge begins to be built. In its first version, it consists of a circular ditch and bank, with 56 wooden posts. (National Geographic, June 2008).
  • Sumerian Cuneiform script, considered among the oldest writing systems, is created.
c. 2880 BC Germination of Prometheus (a bristlecone pine of the species Pinus longaeva), formerly the world's oldest known non-clonal organism.
c. 2832 BC Germination of Methuselah (a bristlecone pine of the species Pinus longaeva), currently the world's oldest known non-clonal organism.
2807 BCSuggested date for an asteroid or comet impact occurring between Africa and Antarctica, around the time of a solar eclipse on May 10, based on an analysis of flood stories. Possibly causing the Burckle crater and Fenambosy Chevron. [7] [8]
2650 BC
  • Sumerian epic of Gilgamesh describes vast tracts of cedar forests in what is now southern Iraq. Gilgamesh defies the gods and cuts down the forest, and in return the gods say they will curse Sumer with fire (or possibly drought). By 2100 BC, soil erosion and salt buildup have devastated agriculture. One Sumerian wrote that the "earth turned white." Civilization moved north to Babylonia and Assyria. Again, deforestation becomes a factor in the rise and subsequent fall of these civilizations.[ citation needed ]
  • Some of the first laws protecting the remaining forests decreed in Ur.[ citation needed ]
c. 2630 BC1815 BCConstruction of the Egyptian pyramids.
2500 BCSahara becomes fully desiccated, and conditions become largely identical to those of today. Desiccation had been proceeding from 7500 to 6000 BC, as a result of the shift in the West African tropical monsoon belt southwards from the Sahel, and intensified by the 5.9 kiloyear event. Subsequent rates of evaporation in the region led to a drying of the Sahara, as shown by the drop in water levels in Lake Chad. Tehenu of the Sahara attempt to enter into Egypt, and there is evidence of a Nile drought in the pyramid of Unas.
2300 BC Neolithic period ends in China.
2200 BCBeginning of a severe centennial-scale drought in northern Africa, southwestern Asia and midcontinental North America, which very likely caused the collapse of the Old Kingdom in Egypt as well as the Akkadian Empire in Mesopotamia. This coincides with the transition from the Subboreal period to the subatlantic period.

2nd millennium BC

Year(s)Event(s)
StartEnd
c. 2000 BCc. 1000 BCContinued mountain formation in the Himalayas contributes to the drying up of the Sarasvati River and the desertification of the Thar Region. This contributes to the decline of the Harappan civilization.
1900 BCThe Atra-Hasis Epic describes Babylonian flood, with warnings of the consequences of human overpopulation.
Around 1600 BC Minoan eruption destroys much of Santorini island, but does not destroy (contrary to what was previously believed) the Minoan civilization on Crete. [9] This may have inspired the legend of Atlantis.
1450 BC Minoan civilization in the Mediterranean declines, but scholars are divided on the cause. Possibly a volcanic eruption was the source of the catastrophe (see Minoan eruption). On the other hand, gradual deforestation may have led to materials shortages in manufacturing and shipping. Loss of timber and subsequent deterioration of its land was probably a factor in the decline of Minoan power in the late Bronze Age, according to John Perlin in A Forest Journey.
1206 BC1187 BCEvidence of major droughts in the Eastern Mediterranean. Hittite and Ugarit records show requests for grain were sent to Egypt, probably during the reign of Pharaoh Merenptah. Carpenter has suggested that droughts of equal severity to those of the 1950s in Greece, would have been sufficient to cause the Late Bronze Age collapse. The cause may have been a temporary diversion of winter storms north of the Pyrenees and Alps. Central Europe experienced generally wetter conditions, while those in the Eastern Mediterranean were substantially drier. There seems to have been a general abandonment of peasant subsistence agriculture in favour of nomadic pastoralism in Central Anatolia, Syria and northern Mesopotamia, Palestine, the Sinai and NW Arabia.

1st millennium BC

Year(s)Event(s)
StartEnd
800 BC500 BC
  • Sub-Atlantic period in Western Europe.
  • Pollen Zone VIII, sub-Atlantic. End of last Sea Level rise.
  • Spread of "Celtic fields", Iron Age A, and Haalstadt Celts.
  • Increased prosperity in Europe and the Middle East.
200 BC Axial Age, a revolution in thinking that we know as Philosophy, begins in China, India, and Europe, with people such as Socrates, Plato, Homer, Lao Tzu, Confucius, among others, alive at this time.
753 BC Ancient Rome begins, with the founding of Rome. This marks the beginning of Classical antiquity.
771-221 BCThe Eastern Zhou period of China is characterized by the formation of larger and more powerful political systems, whose ability to transform their environment is much greater than earlier states. They establish parks to protect wildlife for hunting purposes. [10]
508 BC Democracy created in Athens, Ancient Greece
356 BC323 BC Alexander the Great
269 BC232 BCReign of Ashoka the Great, and the beginning of propagation of Buddhism
221 BCThe Qin dynasty founds China's first empire period of China, conquers large areas of the East Asian mainland, and soon collapses, but is soon rebuilt by the Han dynasty, whose population and environmental impact is similar to that of the Roman Empire. Qin established some of the world's first environmental protection laws. [11]
c. 225 BCThe Sub-Atlantic period began about 225 BC (estimated on the basis of radiocarbon dating) and has been characterized by increased rainfall, cooler and more humid climates, and the dominance of beech forests. The fauna of the Sub-Atlantic is essentially modern although severely depleted by human activities. The Sub-Atlantic is correlated with pollen zone IX; sea levels have been generally regressive during this time interval, though North America is an exception.
c. 200 BC Sri Lanka becomes the first country in the world to have a nature reserve when King Devanampiya Tissa of Anuradhapura established a wildlife sanctuary.

1st millennium AD

1st century

Year(s)Event(s)
StartEnd
79 AD Mount Vesuvius erupts, burying Pompeii and Herculaneum

2nd century

Year(s)Event(s)
StartEnd
114117 Rome reaches its greatest expanse in terms of territory, stretching from the Sahara desert, to England and Belgium, along the Danube River and Black Sea to Mesopotamia and modern-day Kuwait.
186 Hatepe eruption in New Zealand turns the skies red over Rome and China. [12]

3rd century

Year(s)Event(s)
StartEnd
235284 Crisis of the Third Century affects Ancient Rome

4th century

Year(s)Event(s)
StartEnd
c. 300 Migration Period begins. This leads in a couple of centuries to the fall of Rome.
301 San Marino founded, claims to be the world's oldest republic

5th century

Year(s)Event(s)
StartEnd
c. 400c. 800 Migration Period
c. 450 Malaria epidemic in Italy. [13]
476 Fall of Rome, end of the Western Roman Empire

6th century

Year(s)Event(s)
StartEnd
535536 535–536: global climate abnormalities affecting several civilizations.

7th century

Year(s)Event(s)
StartEnd
650 Muslim conquests of the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe
600 Mount Edziza volcanic complex in British Columbia, Canada erupts

8th century

Year(s)Event(s)
StartEnd
Dates unknown Classical Maya civilization begins to decline; Beowulf saga is probably written in Europe sometime in this century
750Muslim Caliphate is moved to Baghdad, ushering in its golden age as a cultural crossroads
774775Unusually-high levels of Carbon 14 are found in tree rings throughout Japan, most likely from a gamma-ray burst, [14] previously thought to be from cosmic rays or abnormally strong solar flares
772804 Charlemagne invades what is now northwestern Germany, battling the Saxons for more than thirty years and finally crushing their rebellion, incorporating Old Saxony into Francia and the Christian world.

9th century

Year(s)Event(s)
StartEnd
c. 850Severe drought exacerbated by soil erosion causes collapse of Central American city states and the end of the Classic Maya civilization.
874According to Landnámabók, the settlement of Iceland begins.

10th century

Year(s)Event(s)
StartEnd
930 Althing, oldest parliamentary institution in the world that is still in existence, is founded
980s Greenland settled by Viking colonists from Iceland

2nd millennium

11th century

Year(s)Event(s)
StartEnd
9851080 Norse Colony at L'Anse aux Meadows
1006 SN 1006 supernova, brightest apparent magnitude stellar event in recorded history (−7.5 visual magnitude)
1054 SN 1054 supernova, created the Crab Nebula
1099The Hodh Ech Chargui and Hodh El Gharbi Regions of southern Mauritania become desert. [15]

12th century

Year(s)Event(s)
StartEnd
1104 Venetian Arsenal in Venice, Italy is founded, employed 16,000 at its peak for the mass production of sailing ships in large assembly lines, hundreds of years before the industrial revolution
1150 Renaissance of the 12th century in Europe, blast furnace for the smelting of cast iron is imported from China
1185First record of windmills in Europe
Dates unknown Nan Madol is constructed on Pohnpei in Micronesia

13th century

Year(s)Event(s)
StartEnd
c. 1250c. 1850Start of the Little Ice Age, a stadial period within our interglacial warm period
1257Catastrophic eruption of Samalas in Indonesia, with climate effects comparable to that of the 1815 Tambora eruption. This contributed to the cooling seen in the Little Ice Age.
end of the 13th centurybeginning of the Renaissance era in Italy, gradually spreads throughout Europe.

14th century

Year(s)Event(s)
StartEnd
13151317 Great Famine of 1315–1317 (Europe)
13471350s Bubonic plague decimates Europe, creating the first attempts to enforce public health and quarantine laws.
1350 Western Settlement in Greenland abandoned, possibly due to the deteriorating climate caused by the onset of the Little Ice Age

15th century

Year(s)Event(s)
StartEnd
1408Last known recording (a wedding) of Norse settlers in Greenland
1453 1452/1453 mystery eruption contributes to fall of Constantinople.
1492 Christopher Columbus lands in Caribbean islands, starting the Columbian Exchange, causing the Aztec Empire and Inca Empire to fall to the Spanish in the next century, as well as bringing various species of animals and plants across the Atlantic Ocean.

16th century

Year(s)Event(s)
StartEnd
15851587 Roanoke Colony, now in North Carolina
End of the 16th centuryEnd of the Renaissance era, gradual transition towards the Baroque, Romantic, Enlightenment, and Modern eras.

17th century

Year(s)Event(s)
StartEnd
1600 Huaynaputina erupts in South America. The explosion had effects on climate around the Northern Hemisphere (Southern hemispheric records are less complete), where 1601 was the coldest year in six centuries, leading to a famine in Russia; see Russian famine of 1601–1603. [16]
1610It has been posited that 1610 marks the beginning of the Anthropocene, or the 'Age of Man', marking a fundamental change in the relationship between humans and the Earth system. [17] [18]

18th century

Year(s)Event(s)
StartEnd
c. 1750Beginning of Industrial Revolution, which eventually turns to use of coal and other fossil fuels to drive steam engines and other devices. Anthropogenic carbon pollution presumably increases.
1755 Great Lisbon earthquake occurred in the Kingdom of Portugal on Saturday, 1 November, the holiday of All Saints' Day, at around 09:40 local time; subsequent fires and a tsunami almost totally destroyed Lisbon and adjoining areas, accentuating political tensions in the kingdom and profoundly disrupting Portugal's colonial ambitions.
1770Failure of the monsoons in the late 1760s contribute to the Bengal famine of 1770 where 10 million people die. This forces a change in tax policy in the British Empire, which was a cause of the American War of Independence.
1783The volcano Laki erupts, emitting sufficient sulfur dioxide gas and sulphate particles to kill a majority of Iceland's livestock and cause an unusually cold winter in Europe and Western Asia.
17891793A recent study of El Niño patterns suggests that the French Revolution was caused in part by the poor crop yields of 1788–89 in Europe, resulting from an unusually strong El-Niño effect between 1789 and 1793. [19]
1798 Thomas Robert Malthus publishes An Essay on the Principle of Population , thus beginning Malthusian economics.

19th century

Year(s)Event(s)
StartEnd
1804 World human population reaches 1 billion.
1815

Eruption of Mt. Tambora in what is now Indonesia, largest in the 2nd millennium AD. Leads to the...

1816
18451857Unusually wet weather in Northern Europe causes crop failures. The worst crop affected was the potato on which both Ireland (the Great Famine) and Scotland (the Highland Potato Famine) were heavily dependent. Elsewhere in Europe, the food shortages lead to civil unrest and the revolutions of 1848. Counting the Irish diaspora and the forty-eighters, millions of Europeans emigrate to North America, South America, and Australia.
1859 John Tyndall discovers that some gases block infrared radiation. He suggests that changes in the concentration of these gases could bring climate change. [20]
1883Eruption of Krakatoa in Indonesia. The sound of the explosion is heard as far as Australia and China, the altered air waves causes strange colours on the sky and the volcanic gases reduce global temperatures during the following years. A disputed but vivid sunset was captured in Edvard Munch's The Scream.
1896 Svante Arrhenius mathematically quantifies the effects of carbon dioxide on climate change related to the Industrial Revolution and the burning of fossil fuels.

20th century

Year(s)Event(s)
StartEnd
1900The 1900 Galveston hurricane hits Galveston, Texas and reverses the city's previously rapid growth.
1906 San Francisco earthquake causes collapse of insurance markets and the Panic of 1907. [21]
1908 Tunguska event decimates a remote part of Siberia.
19141918 World War I, which involves heavy bombardment, explosions, and poison gas warfare.
1918 Spanish flu kills between 20 and 50 million people worldwide shortly after World War I.
1927 World human population reached 2 billion.
19321937Exceptional precipitation absence in northern hemisphere exacerbated by human activities [ citation needed ] causes the Dust Bowl drought of the US plains and the Soviet famine of 1932–1933 (harsh economic damage in US and widespread death in USSR).
19391945 World War II, with heavy bombardment, genocide, and explosions. Towards the end of the war, nuclear warfare occurs for the first and only time when Hiroshima and Nagasaki are bombed.
post-1945 Nuclear tests are performed by the United States, Soviet Union, India, Pakistan, China, North Korea, the United Kingdom, and France. Above-ground detonations continue until the Partial Test Ban Treaty is signed in 1963, causing fallout and spreading radiation around the explosion sites.
1955 Gilbert Plass submits his seminal article "The Carbon Dioxide Theory of Climatic Change". [22]
1957 Sputnik is launched, becomes first man-made object to orbit the Earth, and begins the Space Race between the United States and the Soviet Union, culminating with the first man in space in 1961, and the Moon landing, humanity's first ventures to the Moon in 1969.
1960 World human population reached 3 billion. [23]
1963The Clean Air Act is passed in the United States, with subsequent amendments in 1970, 1977 and 1990.
1974World human population reached 4 billion. [23]
1970s2010s Deindustrialization occurs in the Midwest and then much of the United States, as manufacturing industries (and their pollution) move to China, India, and other countries.
1980 Mount St. Helens erupts explosively in Washington state.
1984 Bhopal disaster.
1986 Chernobyl meltdown and explosion, contaminating surrounding area, including Pripyat.
1987World human population reached 5 billion. [23]
1989The Montreal Protocol comes into effect, phasing out chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and other substances responsible for ozone depletion.
1992The Earth Summit is held in Rio, attended by 192 nations.
1997The Kyoto Protocol is signed, committing nations to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
1999World human population reached 6 billion.

3rd millennium

21st century

Year(s)Event(s)
StartEnd
2004
  • Earthquake causes large tsunamis in the Indian Ocean, killing nearly a quarter of a million people.
2005
  • Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma cause widespread destruction and environmental harm to coastal communities in the US Gulf Coast region, especially the New Orleans area.
2008
  • Cyclone Nargis makes landfall over Myanmar, causing widespread destruction and killing over 130,000 people.
2010
2011
2012
2013
2015
2016
  • 150 nations meeting at the UNEP summit in Rwanda agree to phase out hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), as an extension to the Montreal Protocol. [25]

See also

Related Research Articles

The Holocene is the current geological epoch. It began approximately 11,700 years before 2000 CE. It follows the Last Glacial Period, which concluded with the Holocene glacial retreat. The Holocene and the preceding Pleistocene together form the Quaternary period. The Holocene has been identified with the current warm period, known as MIS 1. It is considered by some to be an interglacial period within the Pleistocene Epoch, called the Flandrian interglacial.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Holocene extinction</span> Ongoing extinction event caused by human activity

The Holocene extinction, or Anthropocene extinction, is the ongoing extinction event during the Holocene epoch. The extinctions span numerous families of plants and animals, including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, invertebrates, and affecting not just terrestrial species but also large sectors of marine life. With widespread degradation of biodiversity hotspots, such as coral reefs and rainforests, as well as other areas, the vast majority of these extinctions are thought to be undocumented, as the species are undiscovered at the time of their extinction, which goes unrecorded. The current rate of extinction of species is estimated at 100 to 1,000 times higher than natural background extinction rates, and is increasing.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mammoth</span> Extinct genus of mammals

A mammoth is any species of the extinct elephantid genus Mammuthus. The various species of mammoth were commonly equipped with long, curved tusks. They lived from the Pliocene epoch into the Holocene about 4,000 years ago, and various species existed in Africa, Europe, Asia, and North America. Mammoths are more closely related to living Asian elephants than African elephants.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pleistocene</span> First epoch of the Quaternary Period

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".

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Quaternary</span> Third and current period of the Cenozoic Era, from 2.58 million years ago to the present

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.

The Younger Dryas, which occurred circa 12,900 to 11,700 years BP, was a return to glacial conditions which temporarily reversed the gradual climatic warming after the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), which lasted from circa 27,000 to 20,000 years BP. The Younger Dryas was the last stage of the Pleistocene epoch that spanned from 2,580,000 to 11,700 years BP and it preceded the current, warmer Holocene epoch. The Younger Dryas was the most severe and longest lasting of several interruptions to the warming of the Earth's climate, and it was preceded by the Late Glacial Interstadial, an interval of relative warmth that lasted from 14,670 to 12,900 BP.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Toba catastrophe theory</span> Supereruption 74,000 years ago that may have caused a global volcanic winter

The Toba eruption was a supervolcano eruption that occurred around 74,000 years ago during the Late Pleistocene at the site of present-day Lake Toba in Sumatra, Indonesia. It is one of the largest known explosive eruptions in the Earth's history. The Toba catastrophe theory holds that this event caused a severe global volcanic winter of six to ten years and contributed to a 1,000-year-long cooling episode, leading to a genetic bottleneck in humans.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mastodon</span> Genus of mammals (fossil)

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Beringia</span> Geographic region of Asia and North America currently partly submerged

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Anthropocene</span> Proposed geologic epoch for present time

The Anthropocene is a proposed geological epoch dating from the commencement of significant human impact on Earth's geology and ecosystems, including, but not limited to, anthropogenic climate change.

A glacial period is an interval of time within an ice age that is marked by colder temperatures and glacier advances. Interglacials, on the other hand, are periods of warmer climate between glacial periods. The Last Glacial Period ended about 15,000 years ago. The Holocene is the current interglacial. A time with no glaciers on Earth is considered a greenhouse climate state.

<i>Stegodon</i> Genus of extinct proboscidean

Stegodon is an extinct genus of proboscidean, related to elephants. It was originally assigned to the family Elephantidae along with modern elephants but is now placed in the extinct family Stegodontidae. Like elephants, Stegodon had teeth with plate-like lophs that are different from those of more primitive proboscideans like gomphotheres and mastodons. The oldest fossils of the genus are found in Late Miocene strata in Asia, likely originating from the more archaic Stegolophodon, shortly afterwards migrating into Africa. While the genus became extinct in Africa during the Pliocene, Stegodon remained widespread in South, Southeast and East Asia until the end of the Pleistocene.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pleistocene megafauna</span> Large animals that lived during the Pleistocene

Pleistocene megafauna is the set of large animals (megafauna) that lived on Earth during the Pleistocene epoch. Most Pleistocene megafauna outside of Africa became extinct during the Quaternary extinction event during the Late Pleistocene, resulting in substantial changes to ecosystems globally. The role of humans in causing Pleistocene megafaunal extinctions is controversial. The precise definition of megafauna is contentious, though a common definition are any animals with an adult body weight of over 45 kilograms (99 lb).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Beth Shapiro</span> American biologist

Beth Alison Shapiro is an American evolutionary molecular biologist. She is a professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Shapiro's work has centered on the analysis of ancient DNA. She was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship in 2009 and a Royal Society University Research Fellowship in 2006.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Timeline of human evolution</span> Chronological outline of major events in the development of the human species

The timeline of human evolution outlines the major events in the evolutionary lineage of the modern human species, Homo sapiens, throughout the history of life, beginning some 4 billion years ago down to recent evolution within H. sapiens during and since the Last Glacial Period.

The Chibanian, widely known as the Middle Pleistocene, is an age in the international geologic timescale or a stage in chronostratigraphy, being a division of the Pleistocene Epoch within the ongoing Quaternary Period. The Chibanian name was officially ratified in January 2020. It is currently estimated to span the time between 0.770 Ma and 0.126 Ma, also expressed as 770–126 ka. It includes the transition in palaeoanthropology from the Lower to the Middle Paleolithic over 300 ka.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Late Pleistocene</span> Third division (unofficial) of the Pleistocene Epoch

The Late Pleistocene is an unofficial age in the international geologic timescale in chronostratigraphy, also known as Upper Pleistocene from a stratigraphic perspective. It is intended to be the fourth division of the Pleistocene Epoch within the ongoing Quaternary Period. It is currently defined as the time between c. 129,000 and c. 11,700 years ago. The Late Pleistocene equates to the proposed Tarantian Age of the geologic time scale, preceded by the officially ratified Chibanian and succeeded by the officially ratified Greenlandian. The estimated beginning of the Tarantian is the start of the Eemian interglacial period. It is held to end with the termination of the Younger Dryas, some 11,700 years ago when the Holocene Epoch began.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Quaternary extinction event</span> Extinction event occurring during the late Quaternary period

The latter half of the Late Pleistocene to the beginning of the Holocene saw extinctions of numerous predominantly megafaunal species, which resulted in a collapse in faunal density and diversity across the globe. The extinctions during the Late Pleistocene are differentiated from previous extinctions by the widespread absence of ecological succession to replace these extinct megafaunal species, and the regime shift of previously established faunal relationships and habitats as a consequence. The timing and severity of the extinctions varied by region and are thought to have been driven by varying combinations of human and climatic factors. Human impact on megafauna populations is thought to have been driven by hunting ("overkill") as well as possibly environmental alteration. The relative importance of human vs climatic factors in the extinctions has been the subject of long-running controversy.

The Centre for Geogenetics is a Danish Basic Research Centre of Excellence (Grundforskningscenter) which officially opened in September 2010. It is located at the Natural History Museum of Denmark, University of Copenhagen and financed by the Danish National Research Foundation.

This paleomammology list records new fossil mammal taxa that were described during the year 2021, as well as notes other significant paleomammology discoveries and events which occurred during 2021.

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