Geologic Time Scale: Pleistocene Epoch
(2,580,000 to 11,700 years ago)
The Pleistocene Epoch is often referred to as the Ice Age due to it spanning the Earth’s most recent period of repeated glaciations. Charles Lyell introduced the term “Pleistocene” in 1839 to describe starta (layers) in Sicily that had at least 70% of their molluscan fauna still living today. The name is a combination of Ancient Greek “most” and Latin meaning “new”. The aridification and colling trends of the preceding Neogene were continued in the Pleistocene.
The modern continents were essentially at their present positions during the Pleistocene, the plates upon which they sit probably having moved no more that 100 kilometers (62 miles) relative to each other since the beginning of the period. In the glacial periods, the sea level would drop by over 100 meters (330 feet) during peak glaciation, exposing large areas of present continental shelf as dry land.