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The Eocene was the second geological epoch in the Palaeogene.[1] It began 56 million years ago, and ended 33.9 million years ago. Before it was the Palaeocene, and after it was the Oligocene.

The Eocene, like the Palaeocene before it, had a climate much warmer than today. At the start of the Eocene the Palaeocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum was reached. This lasted for 100,000 years, and caused a large extinction event. The land was heavily forested, with temperate forests into arctic and antarctic regions, and the many herbivorous mammals were browsers, not grazers.

The end of the Eocene was the beginning of the Oligocene (33.9 million years ago). Many plant and animal species went extinct. This was the Eocene–Oligocene extinction event. The extinction event was probably caused by meteorite strikes in Siberia and Chesapeake Bay.

Swamp forests[change | change source]

Tropical peatlands coexist with swamp forests in the Eocene. This is the most recent period which has left us coal measures. It was so hot in the Eocene that there was high plant growth. Polar forests were quite extensive.[2] Fossils and preserved remains of trees such as swamp cypress and dawn redwood from the Eocene have been found on Ellesmere Island in the Arctic.

References[change | change source]

  1. Kennet J.P. & Stott L.D. 1995. Terminal Paleocene mass extinction in the deep sea: association with global warming. Effects of past global change on life: studies in geophysics. National Academy of Sciences.
  2. Speelman E.N. et al 2009. The Eocene Arctic Azolla bloom: environmental conditions, productivity, and carbon drawdown". Geobiology. 7 (2): 155–170.