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The Paleogene World. Holocene. Two-fold subdivision of Cenozoic: Paleogene , Neogene Previously , Cenozoic was divided into Tertiary (Paleocene-Pliocene) and Quaternary (Pleistocene-Holocene). Pleistocene. Neogene. Pliocene. Miocene. 24. Cenozoic. Oligocene. Paleogene. Eocene.

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The Paleogene World

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The paleogene world l.jpg

The Paleogene World


  • Two-fold subdivision of Cenozoic: Paleogene, Neogene

  • Previously, Cenozoic was divided into Tertiary (Paleocene-Pliocene) and Quaternary (Pleistocene-Holocene)












Earth History, Ch. 18

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Paleogene life

  • In marine realm, most groups that survived end-Cretaceous mass extinction recovered and diversified during Paleogene

    • Planktonic forams, calcareous nannos, mollusks, arthropods

  • Demise of giant marine reptiles opened the door to whales (Eocene) and giant sharks!

Earth History, Ch. 18

Whale evolution eocene holocene l.jpg

Whale evolution (Eocene-Holocene)

Large, marine


Terrestrial ancestor

Earth History, Ch. 18

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Giant Eocene shark

Modern shark jaws

Earth History, Ch. 18

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Paleogene life

  • Other interesting newcomers to marine or marginal marine habitats:

    • Penguins (Eocene)

    • Pinnipeds (seals, sea lions, walruses)

      • Thought to have evolved from terrestrial ancestors in Paleogene time, but oldest fossils are Neogene

Earth History, Ch. 18

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Paleogene life

  • On land…………..

    • Diversification and “modernization” of angiosperms

    • By early Oligocene time, half of all angiosperm genera were ones that still exist today

  • Origin of grasses

    • Earliest forms were sedge-like (discontinuous growth)

    • Late Oligocene-Neogene forms capable of continuous growth (able to withstand grazing pressure)

Earth History, Ch. 18

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Paleogene life

  • Explosive adaptive radiation of mammals!

    • By Eocene time, most modern orders of mammals had appeared, including primates, carnivores and horses

Cantius, climbing around in

our family tree!

Earth History, Ch. 18

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Eocene fossil bat

Earth History, Ch. 18

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Earth History, Ch. 18

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Paleogene life

  • Other Eocene oddities…………..

    • Differentiation of ungulates (hoofed herbivores)

      • Even-toed (cattle, sheep, antelope, bison, pigs, camels, etc.)

      • Odd-toed (horses, tapirs, rhinos)

    • Appearance of elephants

    • Appearance of Diatryma (giant, flightless birds)

Earth History, Ch. 18

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Hyracotherium (“Eohippus”)earliest horse (odd-toed)


4 toes

3 toes

Earth History, Ch. 18

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Diacodexis(early even-toed ungulate)

Earth History, Ch. 18

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Eocene elephants

Earth History, Ch. 18

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Diatryma(stay away from this turkey!)

8 ft

Earth History, Ch. 18

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Paleogene life

  • Many groups of mammals became extinct during Eocene time

  • Oligocene was noteworthy for:

    • Paraceratherium, largest land mammal ever (member of rhino family)

    • Origin of true monkeys

    • “Extinction” of horses throughout Eurasia

    • Expansion of big cats

Earth History, Ch. 18

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Earth History, Ch. 18

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18 ft at shoulder

Earth History, Ch. 18

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Aegyptopithecus(Oligocene monkey)

Earth History, Ch. 18

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horses mostly

absent in Old World

Earth History, Ch. 18

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Dinictis(Oligocene saber-tooth cat)

Earth History, Ch. 18

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Oligocene mammalian fauna of Nebraska & South Dakota

Earth History, Ch. 18

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