Quaternary extinction

mass extinction, occurring around 10,000 BCE, marking the end of the Pleistocene and the beginning of the Holocene Late Pleistocene landscape of northern Spain, by Mauricio Antón (left to right: Equus ferus, Mammuthus primigenius, Rangifer tarandus, Panthera spelaea, Coelodonta antiquitatis)

The Quaternary period (from 2.588 ± 0.005 million years ago to the present) has seen the extinctions of numerous predominantly megafaunal species, which have resulted in a collapse in faunal density and diversity and the extinction of key ecological strata across the globe. The most prominent event in the Late Pleistocene is differentiated from previous Quaternary pulse extinctions by the widespread absence of ecological succession to replace these extinct species, and the regime shift of previously established faunal relationships and habitats as a consequence.

The earliest casualties were incurred at 130,000:BCE (the start of the Late Pleistocene), in Australia ~ 60,000 years ago, in Americas ~ 15 000 years ago, coinciding in time with the early human migrations. However, the great majority of extinctions in Afro-Eurasia and the Americas occurred during the transition from the Pleistocene to the Holocene epoch (13,000:BCE to 8,000:BCE). This extinction wave did not stop at the end of the Pleistocene, continuing, especially on isolated islands, in human-caused extinctions, although there is debate as to whether these should be considered separate events or part of the same event.

Among the main causes hypothesized by paleontologists are overkill by the widespread appearance of humans and natural climate change. A notable modern human presence first appeared during the Middle Pleistocene in Africa, and started to establish continuous, permanent populations in Eurasia and Australasia from 100,000:BCE and 63,000:BCE respectively, and ...read more

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