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2.26: Quaternary Period (2.6 million years ago to Present)

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    Time Range


    Pleistocene Epoch

    Time period of major ice ages where continental glaciation advance and retreated; glaciers covering much of northern North America and Europe during cold periods. Modern human species appears in the fossil record. Many species of large land mammals went extinct at the end of the Pleistocene Epoch. Learn more about the Pleistocene of California preserved in the La Brea Tar Pits, Los Angeles (UC Berkeley Museum of Paleontology website).

    2.6 million to 11,000 years

    Holocene Epoch

    End of the Wisconsinian ice age to the present. Includes a 400 foot-rise in sea level and the rise of human civilizations. Humans rise to become the dominant species on Earth. Learn more about the Holocene: American Museum of Natural History

    11,500 years
    to present

    Thornton Beach State Park, California Big Bone Lick State Park, Kentucky Glacial till and outwash Glacial moraine
    Figure 2.67. A thick sequence of coastal and nearshore deposits of Pleistocene age are exposed in the sea cliffs of Thornton State Beach south of San Francisco, California. Figure 2.68. Big Bone Lick State Park, a source of Pleistocene-age megafauna fossils in northern Kentucky is the birthplace of North American vertebrate paleontology. Figure 2.69. Glacial till and outwash exposed at Caumsett State Park, Long Island, New York. Long Island is underlain by unconsolidated Pleistocene-age glacial deposits. Figure 2.70. Glacial moraine at Montauk Point on Long Island, New York is part of the southern terminal moraine of the Wisconsin glaciation at the end of the Pleistocene Epoch.

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