Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History Geologic Time The Story of a Changing Earth
Presented by the Department of Paleobiology.
The Paleocene
Contents
Epoch Overview
Terrestrial Life through the Paleocene
Life in the Paleocene Oceans
Climates and Shifting Continents
Evidence
Lower jaw of Plesiadapis cookei
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sample
Shark's tooth
Ptilodus montanus
Ectocion ralstonensis
Caenolambda pattersoni
Creodont
Japanese scholar tree
Sycamore relative and dawn redwood
Insect damage on plant leaves
references and links
Foundational Concepts
Dating Methods
Earth Processes
Life Processes
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Glossary Credits Email Us


Climates and Shifting Continents
The 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.

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Epoch Overview | Terrestrial Life through the Paleocene | Life in the Paleocene Oceans
Climates and Shifting Continents



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