The Plio-Pleistocene border PDF Print E-mail

Between the extinction of the dinosaurs and many other life forms at the end of the Mesozoicum, mammals underwent a major diversification during the last 65 millions of  years. Numerous and strange groups of mammals have inhabited our planet since then, till the end of the Tertiary. This is the border between the Pliocene and the Pleistocene, around 2 million years ago, or more precisely, around 1.77 million years ago.

At that moment, the modern ecosystems started to develop in Europe, and the continental mammals begin to look pretty much as the ones that live today.

At this boundary in time and evolution, we find the last representatives of lineages that are on a dead ending street leading towards extinction, living together with mammals which are the ancestors of the mammals of today. Soon after this Plio-Pleistocene border, at the beginning of the Quaternary, the aspect of the world is similar to that of today.

The knowledge of the fauna and the environment of that period of time is essential for the understanding of the world of today, because it learns us about the direct ancestors of the life of today, including ourselves.

MN 17

The time unit which represents the stage just before the Plio-Pleistocene border is called MN 17. The biostratigraphical reference locality for MN 17 is Saint-Vallier (Drôme, France). Localities belonging to MN 17 yield similar fossil faunas. A typical animal which is found in these fauna but which disappeared after MN 17 is the raccoon dog (Nyctereutes megamastoides).  In younger faunas, we find another member of the dog family: the wolf (Canis lupus), which survived till today. Canis lupus and Nyctereutes are not found together. Other Greek localities of this time unit are Sesklo, Volax and Dafnero.

The Eastern European and Asian MN17 sites differ somewhat from the Western European sites in the presence of forms of Asiatic origin and affiliations, such as giraffids and gazelles.

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