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.