Geologic Time Scale: Pliocene Epoch

(5.333 to 2.58 million years ago)

The Pliocene Epoch is the second and most recent epoch of the Neogene Period in the Cenozoic Era. The Pliocene follows the Miocene Epoch and is followed by the Pleistocene Epoch. Charles Lyell (later Sir Charles) gave the Pliocene its name in Principles of Geology (volume 3, 1833). The word pliocene comes from the Greek words meaning “more” and “new”/”recent” and means roughly “continuation of the recent”, referring to the essentially modern marine mollusc fauna.

The beginning of the Pliocene was marked by and increase in global temperatures relative to the uppermost end of the Miocene. Continents continued to drift, moving from positions possibly as far as 250 kilometers from their present locations to positions only 70 kilometers from their current locations. South America became linked to North America through the Isthmus of Panama 2.7 million years ago, making possible the Great American Interchange and bringing a nearly complete end to South America’s distinctive native ungulates fauna.

Piacenzian Age/Stage

3.600 to 2.58 million years ago

The Piacenzian Stage was named after the Italian city of Piacenza by Swiss stratigrapher Karl Mayer-Eymar in 1858.

North American Piacenzian Stage 3.600 to 2.58 million years ago

Genus and species: Ceratogaulus sp.
Common name: Horned gopher
Classification: Family: Mylagaulidae
Time: Late Miocene to Pliocene
Range: Great Plains of North America
Diet: Herbivore
Genus: Mammut “breast tooth” (Mastodon)
Classification: Family: Mammutidae
Time: Early Pliocene to Pleistocene/early Holocene
Locations: Across Africa,‭ ‬Eurasia North America and Central America
Size: 2.3m (9.2 ft) hieght
Diet: Herbivore (browser)

Central and South American Piacenzian Stage 3.600 to 2.58 million years ago

Genus and species: Megatherium americanum
Name meaning: Large beast from America
Classification: Family: Megatherium
Time: Early Pliocene to Early Holocene
Range: Central South America
Diet: Herbivore
Genus: Macrauchenia ‭”‬Long llama‭”
Known locations: Argentina,‭ ‬Bolivia,‭ ‬Chile and Venezuela
Time period: Miocene (Late Tortonian) to Pleistocene (Tarantian‭)
Size: 3‭ ‬meters long
Diet: Herbivore
Genus: Mammut “breast tooth” (Mastodon)
Classification: Family: Mammutidae
Time: Early Pliocene to Pleistocene/early Holocene
Locations: Across Africa,‭ ‬Eurasia North America and Central America
Size: 2.3m (9.2 ft) hieght
Diet: Herbivore (browser)

European Piacenzian Stage 3.600 to 2.58 million years ago

Genus and species: Coelodonta antiquitatis
Common name: Woolly Rhinoceros
Classification: Rhinocerotidae
Time: Late Pliocene to Late Pleistocene
Range: Europe and Asia
Diet:
Herbivore
Genus: Mammut “breast tooth” (Mastodon)
Classification: Family: Mammutidae
Time: Early Pliocene to Pleistocene/early Holocene
Locations: Across Africa,‭ ‬Eurasia North America and Central America
Size: 2.3m (9.2 ft) hieght
Diet: Herbivore (browser)
Genus: Deinotherium “terrible beast”
Classification: Suborder: Deinotheroidea, Family: Deinotheriidae, Subfamily: Deinotheriinae
Time: Middle Miocene to Early Pleistocene Epochs
Locations: Africa, Europe and parts of Asia
Size: 4.0m (13.1 ft) hieght
Diet: Herbivore

African Piacenzian Stage 3.600 to 2.58 million years ago

Genus and species: Australopithecus africanus
Common name: Lucy
Classification: Family: Hominidae – Subfamily: Homininae – Tribe: Hominini
Time: Middle Pliocene
Location: Africa
Diet: Omnivore
Genus: Mammut “breast tooth” (Mastodon)
Classification: Family: Mammutidae
Time: Early Pliocene to Pleistocene/early Holocene
Locations: Across Africa,‭ ‬Eurasia North America and Central America
Size: 2.3m (9.2 ft) hieght
Diet: Herbivore (browser)
Genus: Deinotherium “terrible beast”
Classification: Suborder: Deinotheroidea, Family: Deinotheriidae, Subfamily: Deinotheriinae
Time: Middle Miocene to Early Pleistocene Epochs
Locations: Africa, Europe and parts of Asia
Size: 4.0m (13.1 ft) hieght
Diet: Herbivore

Asian Piacenzian Stage 3.600 to 2.58 million years ago

Genus and species: Coelodonta antiquitatis
Common name: Woolly Rhinoceros
Classification: Rhinocerotidae
Time: Late Pliocene to Late Pleistocene
Range: Europe and Asia
Diet:
Herbivore
Genus: Mammut “breast tooth” (Mastodon)
Classification: Family: Mammutidae
Time: Early Pliocene to Pleistocene/early Holocene
Locations: Across Africa,‭ ‬Eurasia North America and Central America
Size: 2.3m (9.2 ft) hieght
Diet: Herbivore (browser)
Genus: Deinotherium “terrible beast”
Classification: Suborder: Deinotheroidea, Family: Deinotheriidae, Subfamily: Deinotheriinae
Time: Middle Miocene to Early Pleistocene Epochs
Locations: Africa, Europe and parts of Asia
Size: 4.0m (13.1 ft) hieght
Diet: Herbivore

Australian Piacenzian Stage 3.600 to 2.58 million years ago

Genus and species: Otodus. megalodonBig tooth“‬.
Classification: Order: Lamniformes -‭ ‬Family: Otodontidae.
Locations: Worldwide.
Time period: Early Mocene to Early Pliocene
Size: Up to‭ ‬15 to 17‭ ‬meters long.
Diet: Carnivore

Zanclean Age/Stage

5.333 to 3.600 million years ago

The Zanclean Stage was named after Zancie, the pre-Roman names for the Italian city of Messina on Sicity by Giuseppe Seguenza in 1868.

North American Zanclean Stage 5.333 to 3.600 million years ago

Genus and species: Otodus. megalodonBig tooth“‬.
Classification: Order: Lamniformes -‭ ‬Family: Otodontidae.
Locations: Worldwide.
Time period: Early Mocene to Early Pliocene
Size: Up to‭ ‬15 to 17‭ ‬meters long.
Diet: Carnivore
Genus and species: Ceratogaulus sp.
Common name: Horned gopher
Classification: Family: Mylagaulidae
Time: Late Miocene to Pliocene
Range: Great Plains of North America
Diet: Herbivore
Genus: Mammut “breast tooth” (Mastodon)
Classification: Family: Mammutidae
Time: Early Pliocene to Pleistocene/early Holocene
Locations: Across Africa,‭ ‬Eurasia North America and Central America
Size: 2.3m (9.2 ft) hieght
Diet: Herbivore (browser)
Genus: Gomphotherium “Welded beast”
Classifications: Superfamily: Gomphotheriidae, Family: Gomphotheriidae
Time: Miocene (Serravallian) to Pliocene (Zanclean)
Location: Africa, Eurasia and North America
Size: 2.51m (8.3 ft) hieght
Diet: Herbivore

South American Zanclean Stage 5.333 to 3.600 million years ago

Genus and species: Otodus. megalodonBig tooth“‬.
Classification: Order: Lamniformes -‭ ‬Family: Otodontidae.
Locations: Worldwide.
Time period: Early Mocene to Early Pliocene
Size: Up to‭ ‬15 to 17‭ ‬meters long.
Diet: Carnivore
Genus and species: Megatherium americanum
Name meaning: Large beast from America
Classification: Family: Megatherium
Time: Early Pliocene to Early Holocene
Range: Central South America
Diet: Herbivore
Genus: Macrauchenia ‭”‬Long llama‭”
Known locations: Argentina,‭ ‬Bolivia,‭ ‬Chile and Venezuela
Time period: Miocene (Late Tortonian) to Pleistocene (Tarantian‭)
Size: 3‭ ‬meters long
Diet: Herbivore

European Zanclean Stage 5.333 to 3.600 million years ago

Genus and species: Otodus. megalodonBig tooth“‬.
Classification: Order: Lamniformes -‭ ‬Family: Otodontidae.
Locations: Worldwide.
Time period: Early Mocene to Early Pliocene
Size: Up to‭ ‬15 to 17‭ ‬meters long.
Diet: Carnivore
Genus: Mammut “breast tooth” (Mastodon)
Classification: Family: Mammutidae
Time: Early Pliocene to Pleistocene/early Holocene
Locations: Across Africa,‭ ‬Eurasia North America and Central America
Size: 2.3m (9.2 ft) hieght
Diet: Herbivore (browser)
Genus: Gomphotherium “Welded beast”
Classifications: Superfamily: Gomphotheriidae, Family: Gomphotheriidae
Time: Miocene (Serravallian) to Pliocene (Zanclean)
Location: Africa, Eurasia and North America
Size: 2.51m (8.3 ft) hieght
Diet: Herbivore
Genus: Deinotherium “terrible beast”
Classification: Suborder: Deinotheroidea, Family: Deinotheriidae, Subfamily: Deinotheriinae
Time: Middle Miocene to Early Pleistocene Epochs
Locations: Africa, Europe and parts of Asia
Size: 4.0m (13.1 ft) hieght
Diet: Herbivore

African Zanclean Stage 5.333 to 3.600 million years ago

Genus and species: Otodus. megalodonBig tooth“‬.
Classification: Order: Lamniformes -‭ ‬Family: Otodontidae.
Locations: Worldwide.
Time period: Early Mocene to Early Pliocene
Size: Up to‭ ‬15 to 17‭ ‬meters long.
Diet: Carnivore
Genus and species: Australopithecus africanus
Common name: Lucy
Classification: Family: Hominidae – Subfamily: Homininae – Tribe: Hominini
Time: Middle Pliocene
Location: Africa
Diet: Omnivore
Genus: Mammut “breast tooth” (Mastodon)
Classification: Family: Mammutidae
Time: Early Pliocene to Pleistocene/early Holocene
Locations: Across Africa,‭ ‬Eurasia North America and Central America
Size: 2.3m (9.2 ft) hieght
Diet: Herbivore (browser)
Genus: Gomphotherium “Welded beast”
Classifications: Superfamily: Gomphotheriidae, Family: Gomphotheriidae
Time: Miocene (Serravallian) to Pliocene (Zanclean)
Location: Africa, Eurasia and North America
Size: 2.51m (8.3 ft) hieght
Diet: Herbivore
Genus: Deinotherium “terrible beast”
Classification: Suborder: Deinotheroidea, Family: Deinotheriidae, Subfamily: Deinotheriinae
Time: Middle Miocene to Early Pleistocene Epochs
Locations: Africa, Europe and parts of Asia
Size: 4.0m (13.1 ft) hieght
Diet: Herbivore

Asian Zanclean Stage 5.333 to 3.600 million years ago

Genus and species: Otodus. megalodonBig tooth“‬.
Classification: Order: Lamniformes -‭ ‬Family: Otodontidae.
Locations: Worldwide.
Time period: Early Mocene to Early Pliocene
Size: Up to‭ ‬15 to 17‭ ‬meters long.
Diet: Carnivore
Genus: Mammut “breast tooth” (Mastodon)
Classification: Family: Mammutidae
Time: Early Pliocene to Pleistocene/early Holocene
Locations: Across Africa,‭ ‬Eurasia North America and Central America
Size: 2.3m (9.2 ft) hieght
Diet: Herbivore (browser)
Genus: Gomphotherium “Welded beast”
Classifications: Superfamily: Gomphotheriidae, Family: Gomphotheriidae
Time: Miocene (Serravallian) to Pliocene (Zanclean)
Location: Africa, Eurasia and North America
Size: 2.51m (8.3 ft) hieght
Diet: Herbivore
Genus: Deinotherium “terrible beast”
Classification: Suborder: Deinotheroidea, Family: Deinotheriidae, Subfamily: Deinotheriinae
Time: Middle Miocene to Early Pleistocene Epochs
Locations: Africa, Europe and parts of Asia
Size: 4.0m (13.1 ft) hieght
Diet: Herbivore

Australian Zanclean Stage 5.333 to 3.600 million years ago

Genus and species: Otodus. megalodonBig tooth“‬.
Classification: Order: Lamniformes -‭ ‬Family: Otodontidae.
Locations: Worldwide.
Time period: Early Mocene to Early Pliocene
Size: Up to‭ ‬15 to 17‭ ‬meters long.
Diet: Carnivore

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