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The Tertiary describes a section of the Earth's New Age and began about 65 million years ago. It took about 63 million years and is now divided into five series by scientists with the Paleocene, the Eocene, the Oligocene, the Miocene and the Pliocene. The name of this geological era derives from the Italian "Montes tertiarii", the common name for the Alps of northern Italy until the end of the 18th century. The term was coined in 1760 by the Italian geologist Giovanni Arduino, who referred to the finds of rock strata, especially of basalt, shale and granite from that era. Today, the Tertiary, which followed the great extinction of dinosaurs at the end of the chalk, is referred to above all as the heyday of mammals.
Meanwhile, the Tertiary is on the geological time scale of the International Commission for Stratigraphy (ICS) through the Paleogene and the Neogen been replaced.


The climate of the Tertiary was initially characterized by very hot temperatures that ruled the world and created ideal conditions for the development of mammals. They reached their peak in the Eocene, but plate tectonic shifts and strong volcanic activity gradually led to a collapse of global heat transport and, subsequently, to a slow cooling of the continents in the northern hemisphere. In the upper Tertiary, large areas of the northern land masses were already covered with a thick layer of ice.


In the Tertiary, the distribution of the oceans and continents began to change, as it characterizes the geography of the earth today. The already existing Atlantic continued to expand and led to a separation between Europe and America. The Tethys gradually disappeared as Europe, India and Asia collided. At the same time, North and South America slowly joined and formed a common continent. The Tertiary is also marked by the final breakup of the southern major continent Gondwana, because Australia migrated slowly in this epoch to the north. In between, a deep ocean basin formed.

Flora and Fauna (plants and animals):

Due to the gradual cooling, the Tertiary saw a veritable upswing of overgrown plants, which developed rapidly during this period and formed continuously new species. From the entire Tertiary to the scientists today well over 200 000 different types of Bedecktsamern known. The summer-green trees and shrubs, which spread mainly in Asia and are summarized under the term arctotertiary flora, form the basis of today's vegetation in Europe.
The cool temperatures in the upper Tertiary also resulted in an increase in the size of many mammals. These adapted perfectly to the changing climatic conditions and were represented not only on land, but now also in the water in a large biodiversity. Sharks and rays predominated in the sea, but dolphins, whales and seals also adapted to the marine living conditions and spread. In the group of reptiles remained after the large mass extinction at the end of the crayon only the turtles and the crocodiles as a species-rich groups. The Tertiary is significant, however, mainly because of the appearance of many new land mammals. The first ungulates, trunks, primates, predators and bats appeared and conquered many new habitats through the early Tertiary still existing land bridges between America and Europe. In the Miocene there was gradually a split off of the hominids of the apes, which later brought the development of man.