Eocene Epoch

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Eocene Epoch

The Eocene Epoch, second of the five epochs into which the Tertiary Period is divided, lasted from 54 to 38 million years ago. Mammals became the dominant land animals during this epoch.

The Eocene Epoch (meaning dawn of the recent period, from the Greek eos, dawn, and koinos, recent), like the other epochs of the Tertiary Period, was originally defined in 1833 by the English geologist Charles Lyell (17971875) on the basis of how many modern species are found among its fossils . The Eocene Epoch was defined by Lyell as that time where 15% of the species were modern (i.e., are still alive today). The Eocene Epoch's boundaries are therefore arbitrary, not set by mass extinctions or other clear-cut events.

For most of the Eocene Epoch, the global climate was warm and rainy. Ice caps were small or nonexistent. Early Eocene Epoch sea levels were low, creating land bridges between Asia and North America via the Bering Strait, North America and Europe via Greenland, and Australia and Antarctica . Late in the epoch Antarctica drifted south, opening a deep-water channel between it and Australia that caused a global cooling trend by allowing the formation of the circum-Antarctic current.

The Eocene Epoch saw the replacement of older mammalian orders by modern ones. Hoofed animals first appeared, including the famous Eohippus (dawn horse) and ancestral rhinoceroses and tapirs. Early bats, rabbits, beavers, rats, mice, carnivorous mammals, and whales also evolved during the Eocene Epoch. The earliest Eocene Epoch mammals were all small, but larger species, including the elephant-sized titanothere, evolved toward the end of the epoch.

Many flowering plants evolved in the Eocene Epoch. Especially important are the grasses, which had first appeared in the late Cretaceous Period but did not become diverse and ubiquitous until the Eocene Epoch. Abundant grass encouraged the evolution of early grazing animals, including Eohippus. Familiar tree species such as birch, cedar, chestnut, elm, and beech flourished during the Eocene Epoch; aquatic and insect life were much the same as today.

See also Archean; Cambrian Period; Carbon dating; Cenozoic Era; Dating methods; Devonian Period; Fossil record; Geologic time; Historical geology; Holocene Epoch; Jurassic Period; Mesozoic Era; Miocene Epoch; Mississippian Period; Oligocene Epoch; Ordovician Period; Paleozoic Era; Pennsylvanian Period; Phanerozoic Eon; Pleistocene Epoch; Pliocene Epoch; Precambrian; Proterozoic Era; Quaternary Period; Silurian Period

Eocene

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Eocene Tertiary epoch which began at the end of the Palaeocene (56.5Ma) and ended at the beginning of the Oligocene (35.4Ma). It is noted for the expansion of mammalian stocks (horses, bats, and whales appeared during this epoch), and the local abundance of nummulites (marine protozoans of the Foraminiferida). The Eocene Epoch is divided into the Ypresian, Lutetian, Bartonian, and Priabonian Ages.

Eocene

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Eocene A Tertiary epoch, from about 54.9–38 Ma ago, which began at the end of the Palaeocene and ended at the beginning of the Oligocene. It is noted for the expansion of mammalian stocks and the local abundance of nummulites (marine protozoans of the Foraminiferida). In southern Britain, a humid, subtropical climate allowed rain forests to flourish. The name is derived from the Greek eos meaning ‘dawn’, and kainos meaning ‘new’.

Eocene

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Eocene A Tertiary epoch, from about 56.5–35.4 Ma ago, which began at the end of the Palaeocene and ended at the beginning of the Oligocene. It is noted for the expansion of mammalian stocks (horses, bats, and whales appeared during this epoch), and the local abundance of nummulites (marine protozoans of the Foraminiferida). In southern Britain a humid, subtropical climate allowed rain forests to flourish. The name means ‘dawn of the new’ and is derived from the Greek eos, meaning ‘dawn’, and kainos, meaning ‘new’.

Eocene

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Eocene The second geological epoch of the Tertiary period. It extended from the end of the Palaeocene epoch, about 54 million years ago, to the beginning of the Oligocene epoch, about 38 million years ago. The term was first proposed by Sir Charles Lyell (1797–1875) in 1833. In some classifications of geological time the Palaeocene is included as part of the Eocene. Mammals were dominant in the Eocene: rodents, artiodactyls, carnivores, perissodactyls (including early horses), and whales were among the groups to make their first appearance.

Eocene

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E·o·cene / ˈēəˌsēn/ • adj. Geol. of, relating to, or denoting the second epoch of the Tertiary period, between the Paleocene and Oligocene epochs. ∎  [as n.] (the Eocene) the Eocene epoch or the system of rocks deposited during it.

Eocene

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Eocene A Tertiary epoch, about 55.8–33.8 Ma ago, which began at the end of the Palaeocene and ended at the beginning of the Oligocene. It is noted for the expansion of mammalian stocks (horses, bats, and whales appeared during this epoch), and the local abundance of nummulites (marine protozoans of the Foraminiferida). The name means ‘dawn of the new’ and is derived from the Greek eos, ‘dawn’, and kainos, ‘new’.

eocene

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eocene (geol.) second lowest division of the tertiary. XIX. f. Gr. ēṓs dawn + kainós new, recent.
So miocene following the oligocene. f. Gr. meíōn less. oligocene following the eocene. f. Gr. olígos OLIGO-, palaeocene lowest division of the tertiary. See PALAEO-, pleistocene following the pliocene. f. Gr. pleîstos most. pliocene highest division of the tertiary, following the miocene. f. Gr. pleíōn more.

Eocene

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Eocene of, relating to, or denoting the second epoch of the Tertiary period, between the Palaeocene and Oligocene epochs. The Eocene epoch lasted from 56.5 to 35.4 million years ago. It was a time of rising temperatures, and there was an abundance of mammals, including the first horses, bats, and whales.

The term is recorded from the mid 19th century, and comes from Greek ēōs ‘dawn’ + kainos ‘new’.

Eocene

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Eocene Second of the five epochs of the Tertiary period, c.55–38 million years ago. The fossil record shows members of modern plant genera, including beeches, walnuts, and elms, and indicates the apparent dominance of mammals, including the ancestors of camels, horses, rodents, bats, and monkeys.