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An introduction to the Extinct Life Pictorial Encyclopedia along with some statistics regarding what information is available

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Quaternary Period
2.58 m.y.a. to Present Day (2.58 Million Years)
Indiana Mastodon Bog Scene by Karen Carr
Karen Carr Studio Inc.
Gray Fossil Tennessee Ice Age Landscape by Karen Carr
Karen Carr Studio Inc.
Indiana Peccary and Dire Wolf Mural by Karen Carr
Karen Carr Studio Inc.
Indiana Carnivore Lair by Karen Carr
Karen Carr Studio Inc.
Mississippi Pleistocene Shore by Karen Carr
Karen Carr Studio Inc.
North American Pleistocene Landscape by Karen Carr
Karen Carr Studio Inc.
Ice Age
A Review of the Universe
QuaternaryLandscape by Karen Carr
The Field Museum
A Review of the Universe
Prehistoric Scene at Rancho La Brea by Charles Knight
The Field Museum
29 Palms Tortoise by Karen Carr
Karen Carr Studio Inc.

Geological Ages Comprising the Quaternary Period
AgeStart (m.y.a.)End (m.y.a.)Length (m. y.)
How the Earth's Continents May Have Been During the Quaternary Period
View Continental Drift Animation
Click to View Continental Drift Animation


The term “Quaternary” (i.e., “Fourth”) was proposed by Jules Desnoyers in 1829 to describe certain sedimentary and volcanic deposits in the Seine Basin in northern France and was made official by Morlot in 1854. Although these deposits contained few fossils, Desnoyers was convinced on the basis of field studies that these deposits were younger than the Tertiary series of rocks.

In 1839, the great Scottish geologist Charles Lyell divided the Quaternary period into the older Pleistocene ("most recent“) composed primarily of glacial deposits and the younger, more recent Holocene (“completely recent“) which is the Period we are in which we live.

Industrial Revolution In 2000, the Nobel Prize winning atmospheric chemist Paul Crutzen proposed the adoption of a new geological Epoch call the “Anthropocene” to represent the most recent period in the Earth's history in recognition of the significant influence of human behavior on the Earth in recent decades. The Anthropocene has no precise start date but is considered to have begun in the late 18th century when the activities of the humans first began to have a significant global impact on the Earth's climate and ecosystems.

Tectonics and Paleoclimate

During the Pleistocene, the most recent Ice Age hit which was a series of advances and retreats of the ice as the climate fluctuated between cold (glacial) and warm (interglacial) periods. The sea level rose during the melting of the glaciers, and then dropped again during the next long cold spell (ice formation). The lowered sea levels formed land bridges that enabled the migration of animals and humans across continents.

The Holocene is characterized by climatic warming and the beginning of the present interstadial (i.e., warming period between glaciations). It is interesting to note that all other ages, epochs, and eras are represented by natural evolutionary and geological phenomena whereas the Holocene is distinguished by human activities and geographical impacts such as the continual and unrestrained rise of cities, towns, fields, and roads and a corresponding exponential growth in human population and knowledge.

The Anthropocene essentially represents the 18th Century to present beginning with the “Industrial Revolution” and characterized by Western imperialism and assimilation, secularism, mass media, and a global society.


Quaternary Forrest The flora during the Quaternary is essentially what is found today except for those species which have been affected by climate changes during the Pleistocene and human expansion during the Holocene and Anthropocene.


During the beginning of the Quaternary, mammalian forms were at its height with both small and giant animals living Quaternary Megafauna alongside each other. Most animals were basically modern species but there were also a variety of giant mammals (a.k.a., “megafauna”) which evolved including giant kangaroos and wombats in Australia, mammoth and woolly rhinos in Europe, mastodon, camels, and dire wolves in America, and elephant-sized ground sloths as well as giant armadillo-like creatures called glyptodonts in South America.

Homo Erectus The hominid tendency to increase brain size and hence intelligence continued giving rise to Homo erectus, Homo neanderthalensis, and finally modern man (Homo sapiens). Language evolved and with it came the sharing of knowledge, concepts and ideas. It is unknown exactly when language came into existence and it is highly debated as to whether or not the neanderthal possessed this capability.

Meteorite Impacts on Earth

I included a list of meteorite impacts relevant to this time period as a point of reference since many of the New Quebec Meteorite Crater, Quebec, Canada (Age: 1.4 m.y.a., Dia: 2.14 mi) explanations for mass extinctions throughout Earth’s history include meteorite impact(s) as a possible cause. The meteorite impact information below was obtained from the ‘Earth Impact Database’ maintained by the Planetary and Space Science Centre, University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada ( www.passc.net/EarthImpactDatabase).
The Earth Impact Database currently contains 26 meteorite impacts which are believed to have occurred during the Quaternary Period.
Crater NameCountry & ContinentDiameterLongitudeLatitudeM.Y.A.
Sikhote AlinRussian Federation, Asia.02 km (.012 mi)E 134° 40'N 46° 7'.00006
WabarSaudi Arabia, Asia.11 km (.068 mi)E 50° 28'N 21° 30'.00014
SobolevRussian Federation, Asia.05 km (.031 mi)E 137° 52'N 46° 18'.00100
HavilandUnited States, North America.01 km (.006 mi)W 99° 10'N 37° 35'.00100
IlumetsäEstonia, Europe.08 km (.050 mi)E 27° 25'N 57° 58'.00200
KaalijärvEstonia, Europe.11 km (.068 mi)E 22° 40'N 58° 24'.00400
Campo Del CieloArgentina, South America.05 km (.031 mi)W 61° 42'S 27° 38'.00400
HenburyAustralia, Oceania.15 km (.093 mi)E 133° 8'S 24° 34'.00420
MachaRussian Federation, Asia.30 km (.186 mi)E 117° 35'N 60° 6'.00700
MoraskoPoland, Europe.10 km (.062 mi)E 16° 54'N 52° 29'.01000
TenoumerMauritania, Africa1.90 km (1.181 mi)W 10° 24'N 22° 55'.02140
BarringerUnited States, North America1.18 km (.733 mi)W 111° 1'N 35° 2'.04900
OdessaUnited States, North America.16 km (.099 mi)W 102° 29'N 31° 45'.05000
LonarIndia, Asia1.83 km (1.137 mi)E 76° 31'N 19° 58'.05200
BoxholeAustralia, Oceania.17 km (.106 mi)E 135° 12'S 22° 37'.05400
AmguidAlgeria, Africa.45 km (.280 mi)E 4° 23'N 26° 5'.10000
Rio CuartoArgentina, South America4.50 km (2.796 mi)W 64° 14'S 32° 52'.10000
Tswaing (formerly Pretoria Saltpan)South Africa, Africa1.13 km (.702 mi)E 28° 5'S 25° 24'.22000
KalkkopSouth Africa, Africa.64 km (.398 mi)E 24° 26'S 32° 43'.25000
DalgarangaAustralia, Oceania.02 km (.012 mi)E 117° 17'S 27° 38'.27000
Wolfe CreekAustralia, Oceania.87 km (.541 mi)E 127° 48'S 19° 10'.30000
ZhamanshinKazakhstan, Asia14.00 km (8.699 mi)E 60° 58'N 48° 24'.90000
VeeversAustralia, Oceania.08 km (.050 mi)E 125° 22'S 22° 58'1
MonturaquiChile, South America.46 km (.286 mi)W 68° 17'S 23° 56'1
BosumtwiGhana, Africa10.50 km (6.524 mi)W 1° 25'N 6° 30'1
New QuebecCanada, North America3.44 km (2.138 mi)W 73° 40'N 61° 17'1

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