Tertiary - Research Article from Macmillan Science Library: Animal Sciences

This encyclopedia article consists of approximately 4 pages of information about Tertiary.
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Tertiary

The Tertiary era, from 65 to 2 million years ago, consists of six epochs: the Paleocene, Eocene, Oligocene, Miocene, and Pliocene, which represent chapters in the story of the mammal's rise to dominance of land and oceans. The Tertiary follows the great Cretaceous extinction in which the dinosaurs, who had dominated the terrestrial food chain for hundreds of millions of years, inexplicably vanished, leaving only a few reptiles and mammal-like creatures as survivors.

The ancestors of the mammals, the therapsids, had been evolving into a broad range of ecological niches since the Permian-Triassic periods, some 260 million years ago. During the Mesozoic reign of dinosaurs, these mammals had dwindled almost into nonexistence, a few rat-sized species eking out a nocturnal insectivorous living, staying out of the way of predators.

This long period of trying to avoid being eaten may actually have produced the very features that later allowed mammals...

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This section contains 973 words
(approx. 4 pages at 300 words per page)
Buy the Tertiary Encyclopedia Article
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Tertiary from Macmillan. Copyright © 2001-2006 by Macmillan Reference USA, an imprint of the Gale Group. All rights reserved.
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