Palaeogene Period FACT FILE

The Palaeogene (/ˈpæliːɵdʒiːn/ or /ˈpeɪliːɵdʒiːn/; also spelled Palæogene and Paleogene; informally Lower Tertiary) is a geologic period and system that began 66 and ended 23.03 million years ago and comprises the first part of the Cenozoic Era.  The Palaeogene is divided into three epochs: Palaeocene, Eocene and Oligocene.

*Based on 'The Geologic Time Scale 2012' by F M Gradstein, J G Ogg, M Schmitz & G Ogg (2012), with additions. Credit: British Geological Survey

The beginning of the Paleogene Period was very warm and moist compared to today’s climate. Much of the earth was tropical or sub-tropical. Palm trees grew as far north as Greenland! 

 

By the end of the Paleogene the climate began to cool.

 

The Paleocene is the first epoch of the Paleogene.  During this epoch isolated continent of India moved north and collided with Asia. The end of the epoch, is marked by an an abrupt rise in Global Mean Temperatures creating a wetter climate and a rise in sea level.

The BBC Nature website has a very good section on the Palaeocene.  

 

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The early part of the second epoch of the Palaeogene, the Eocene, is thought to have had the highest Global Mean Tempertaures of the Cenozoic Era, with mean temperatures about 30° C; relatively low temperature gradients from pole to pole; and high precipitation in a world that was essentially ice-free.

 

It was an important time of plate boundary rearrangement, in which the patterns of spreading centres and transform faults were changed, causing significant effects on global oceanic and atmospheric circulation. 

The BBC Nature website has a very good section on the Eocene.  

 

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The Oligocene Epoch, is the third epoch of the Palaeogene and lasted from about 33.9 to 23 million years ago. During this epoch we can observe in the fossil record the appearance of the first elephants with trunks, early horses, and the appearance of many grasses.

The BBC Nature website has a very good section on the Oligocene.  

 

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