The Pliocene ( /ˈpləˌsn/; also Pleiocene) Epoch is the epoch in the geologic timescale that extends from 5.333 million to 2.58 million years BP. It is the second and youngest epoch of the Neogene Period in the Cenozoic Era. The Pliocene follows the Miocene Epoch and is followed by the Pleistocene Epoch. Prior to the 2009 revision of the geologic time scale, which placed the four most recent major glaciations entirely within the Pleistocene, the Pliocene also included the Gelasian stage, which lasted from 2.588 to 1.806 million years ago, and is now included in the Pleistocene.

As with other older geologic periods, the geological strata that define the start and end are well identified but the exact dates of the start and end of the epoch are slightly uncertain. The boundaries defining the Pliocene are not set at an easily identified worldwide event but rather at regional boundaries between the warmer Miocene and the relatively cooler Pliocene. The upper boundary was set at the start of the Pleistocene glaciations.

Charles Lyell (later Sir Charles) gave the Pliocene its name in Principles of Geology (volume 2, 1833). The word pliocene comes from the Greek words πλεῖον (pleion, "more") and καινός (kainos, "new" or "recent") and means roughly "continuation of the recent", referring to the essentially modern marine mollusc fauna.

H.W. Fowler called the term Pliocene (like other geological jargon such as pleistocene and miocene) a "regrettable barbarism" and an indication that even "a good classical scholar" such as Lyell should have requested a philologist's help when coining words.

To summarize the usage of these "regrettable barbarisms" in the labelling of the Cenozoic ("recent life") era (from youngest to oldest):

with the understanding that these are all new relative to the Mesozoic ("middle life" - the age of dinosaurs) and Paleozoic ("old life" - Trilobites, coal forests, and the earliest Synapsida) eras.

This page was last edited on 20 June 2018, at 14:17 (UTC).
Reference: under CC BY-SA license.

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