Cenozoic paleoclimates, vegetation and extinctions

Matthew Pound (March 28, 2019)

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Abstract

The Cenozoic era (66 million years ago to today) followed the extinction of the dinosaurs and other Mesozoic life. This era is one characterised by the rise of the mammals and the modernisation of global floras. These evolutionary and extinction events have played out against the backdrop trend of fluctuating, but progressively cooling, global climates. The general trend of Cenozoic global cooling is punctuated by a number of short-lived, or step-change events that have had sometimes profound impacts on life and sometimes not. After presenting a broad overview of Cenozoic climate and contextualising this era against the history of life and the big extinction events. We will then focus on a few key time intervals, within the Cenozoic. Using these case studies, to explore the role of climate change in reorganising global vegetation, causing extinctions and promoting evolution and expansion.