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The Quaternary is the current geological period. It is the most recent of the three periods of the Cainozoic era. The Quaternary follows the Neogene, which is the second period of the Cainozoic.

The woolly mammoth is an animal that lived in the Quaternary. It illustrates the generally cold climate of the period.

The Quaternary began about 2.6 million years ago, and continues today. A great deal of information is considered when geologists discuss the timing of periods.[1] The status of the Quaternary as a period is confirmed by the International Commission on Stratigraphy (ICS).

In the Quarternary were the glaciations known as the Ice Age. Also, anatomically modern humans evolved. During the Quaternary, many large mammalian species became extinct. This was due to climate change and hunting by humans.[2]

The Quaternary includes two geologic epochs:

Changes in Earth's climate is caused by slight changes in the Earth's orbit round the Sun,[3] and by the tilt of the Earth's axis.


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  1. Gibbard P.L. et al 2007. Global chronostratigraphical correlation table for the last 2.7 million years v. 2007b., jpg version 844 KB. Subcommission on Quaternary Stratigraphy, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, England.
  2. Martin P.S. and Klein R.G. eds 1984. Quaternary extinctions: a prehistoric revolution. Arizona, Tucson AZ.
  3. J Imbrie & JZ Imbrie 1980. Modeling the climatic response to orbital variations. Science. 207 (4434): 943–953. Bibcode:1980Sci...207..943I. doi:10.1126/science.207.4434.943. PMID 17830447. S2CID 7317540