The Pleistocene is a geological age which spanned from about 2.6 million years ago to about 11,700 years ago, when the Holocene began, which is our present time. This period was characterized by a series of glaciations and interglacial periods.
In these periods the climate experienced great changes and the animal and plant species adapted to new conditions. In this article we will delve into the characteristics of the Pleistocene, including its time, climate, flora and fauna, as well as the stages that comprise it.
Meaning and definition of Pleistocene
The Pleistocene is a geological period that began about 2.6 million years ago and ended about 11,700 years ago. It was characterized by alternating cold and warm seasons on Earth, during which there were important changes in the fauna and flora, as well as in the geography of the planet.
the pleistocene divided into two periods; the Pleistocene lower, spanning from its inception 2.6 million years ago to about 781,000 years ago; and the Pleistocene latewhich extends from about 781,000 years ago to about 11,700 years ago.
The term ‘Pleistocene’ is derived from the Greek ‘lawsuits‘, which means ‘more’, and ‘kainos‘, which means ‘new’. The term was coined by British geologist Charles Lyell in 1839 to describe the most recent sediments that had been deposited on Earth at that time.
During the Pleistocene, the Earth experienced several ice ages that had a significant impact on the fauna, flora, and geography of the planet. the ice ages characterized by the expansion of glaciers and the formation of large ice sheets in the northern hemisphere. These changes also affected the lives of the human beings who inhabited the Earth at that time.
What are the characteristics of the Pleistocene?
The Pleistocene is a geological period that is characterized by the climatic and geographical changes that the Earth experienced. Next details some of the features most outstanding:
- Glaciations: During the Pleistocene, the Earth experienced several ice ages, which caused the formation of large ice sheets in the northern hemisphere. These ice ages were caused by changes in the orbit terrestrial and the tilt of the Earth’s axis, as well as the influence of other factors, such as volcanic eruptions.
- Changes in fauna and flora: Ice ages and other climatic and geographic changes of the Pleistocene had a significant impact on the Earth’s fauna and flora. During the ice ages, new species appeared animals and plants adapted to cold conditionssuch as the mammoth, woolly rhinoceros and steppe bison. As the ice ages receded, animal and plant species adapted to the new climatic conditions.
- Human evolution: The Pleistocene was an important time for human evolution, as the first humans appeared during this period and adapted to changing conditions of climate and geography. During the Pleistocene, humans evolved from Homo habilis to Homo sapiens, developing more sophisticated tools for hunting and gathering.
- Changes in the continents: During the Pleistocene, the continents underwent significant changes in their geography and topography. For example, the sea level dropped by several meters, which allowed the connection of the island with the mainland. In addition, the glaciations caused changes in the shape of the rivers and the erosion of the mountains.
- Species extinction: During the Pleistocene, several animal species became extinct, possibly as a result of climatic and geographic changes. Some of the best-known extinct animals from the Pleistocene are the mammoth, saber-toothed tiger, and giant sloth.
All these characteristics make the Pleistocene be a fascinating geological period and of great interest to science.
What is the period covered by the Pleistocene?
The Pleistocene is a geological period spanning from about 2.6 million years ago to about 11,700 years ago. Is one of the most important periods in history of the Earth, due to the significant changes that took place during this time in the climate, geography, flora and fauna of the planet.
The Pleistocene is preceded by the geologic period known as the Pliocene and is followed by the Holocene period, which is the current geologic period in which we live. During the Pleistocene, the Earth experienced a series of ice ages and interglacial periods, in which important changes in flora and fauna occurred.
The Pleistocene is known to be the period in which the first hominids, the ancestors of modern humans, appeared. I also know characterized by the presence of megafauna, like mammoths, woolly rhinos, and saber-toothed tigers, which went extinct at the end of it.
The Pleistocene climate was characterized by global climatic fluctuations, with periods of extreme cooling and warming occurring over hundreds of thousands of years. These fluctuations were translated into changes in sea levels, ocean currents, the extent of glaciers and the distribution of fauna and flora.
During the coldest periods of the Pleistocene, the formation of large ice sheets on the continents, especially in the Northern Hemisphere. These ice sheets covered much of Europe, North America, and Asia, extending in some places as far as 45 degrees north latitude. Also, glaciers stretched into mountains all over the world.
The causes of Pleistocene global cooling are still debated, but it is believed that Earth’s orbital variations and fluctuations in the amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere may have played a role.
As for the warmer periods of the Pleistocene, they were characterized by temperatures warmer than today, especially in areas near the equator. During these periods, the glaciers receded and sea levels rose, inundating some coastal areas.
Flora and fauna of the Pleistocene
The Pleistocene was characterized by the appearance of numerous animal species, many of which became extinct at the end of the period. Among the best known mammals from this period are mammoths, saber-toothed tigers, woolly rhinos, giant sloths, and cave bears.
New species of plants also developed, such as pines, oaks, and maples, which adapted to changing weather conditions. These species were distributed throughout the world and formed important ecosystems, such as forests and grasslands.
Furthermore, during the Pleistocene the first humans appearedAs the Homo habilis and the erectus, which adapted to the changing conditions of climate and geography. Humans of this time hunted animals such as mammoths and bison, and gathered fruits and plants.
What are the stages of the Pleistocene?
The Pleistocene is divided into two stages: the Lower Pleistocene and Late Pleistocene. Both stages are separated by an interglacial period that took place about 781,000 years ago. The characteristics of each of the stages of the Pleistocene are briefly described below:
The Lower Pleistocene is the first stage of the Pleistocene, which extends from about 2.6 million years ago to about 781,000 years ago. During this stage, important geological, climatic and biological changes on earth.
The main characteristic of the Lower Pleistocene was the alternation between periods of glaciation and interglacial periods, which occurred as a result of variations in orbit and the Earth’s tilt, as well as the amount of solar energy the planet receives. These climatic changes had a significant impact on the fauna, flora and geography of the planet.
During the Lower Pleistocene, the first hominids appeared, such as the Homo habilis and the erectuswhich evolved to adapt to changes in climate and environment. There was also the extinction of many species of animals, such as some giant mammals, including the woolly rhinoceros.
In terms of geography, during the Lower Pleistocene there were important changes in ocean circulation patterns and in the configuration of the continents. In particular, the formation of the isthmus of panama about 3 million years ago it had a significant impact on the circulation of ocean currents and on the region’s biodiversity.
The Late Pleistocene is the last stage of the Pleistocene, which spans about 126,000 years until the end of the ice age, approximately 11,700 years ago. During this stage, important climatic and biological changes occurred on Earth.
The main characteristic of the late Pleistocene was the presence of a large ice sheet that covered much of North America, Europe and Asia, what is known as the ice age. The ice sheet extended to about 45 degrees north latitude in North America and as far as the Alps in Europe.
During the Late Pleistocene there were also major changes in the Earth’s fauna and flora. many animal species, including giant mammals like the mammoth and the cave bear, have gone extinct due to overhunting and climate change. On the other hand, some animals such as bison and reindeer evolved to adapt to the cold and dry conditions of the Late Pleistocene.
As for human beings, during the late Pleistocene there was the expansion of modern humans, which spread throughout the world, including North America. Late Pleistocene humans developed new technologies to adapt to the cold climate and to hunt and gather food.
During this period, the Earth experienced a series of significant changes in its climate and geography, which had a major impact on the fauna and flora. He Pleistocene was an important time for human evolution, as the first humans appeared during this period and adapted to changing conditions of climate and geography.