and Shifting Continents
continents were mostly separate from one another in the Paleocene.
India was moving north toward southern Asia and would begin to collide
with it during the late Paleocene. Australia had separated from Antarctica
and was moving north. A seaway separated North America from South
America, connecting the Atlantic with the Pacific and Indian Oceans.
The Atlantic Ocean continued widening. South America remained connected
to Antarctica by a narrow peninsula. North America was connected to
Asia by the Bering land bridge, and to Europe by way
of Ellesmere Island and Greenland as well as areas now submerged under
the North Sea. As in the Cretaceous, the Tethys Ocean
separated Europe from Africa. The uplift of the Rocky Mountains signaled
the final retreat of North America's mid-continent seaway, but the
ocean still covered parts of Washington and Oregon, as well as the
Atlantic and Gulf coastal plains
Abrupt warming at the end of the Paleocene followed the release of
a large volume of methane contained in seafloor sediments.
This led to the extinction of over 50% of the species of deep-sea
foraminiferans. A subtropical "greenhouse" climate existed nearly
worldwide, with maximum warmth occurring at 55 million years ago.
Epoch Overview |
Terrestrial Life through the Paleocene |
Life in the Paleocene Oceans
Climates and Shifting Continents
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