Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History Geologic Time The Story of a Changing Earth
Presented by the Department of Paleobiology.
The Miocene
Contents
Epoch Overview
Terrestrial Life Throughout the Miocene
Miocene Marine Life
Shifting Continents and Changing Climates
Evidence
Skull of Hemicyon
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sample
Chalicothere
Three-toed horse
Dog
Primitive baleen whale
Giant-toothed white shark
Seal
Shark-toothed whale
Snail
Oak
references and links
Foundational Concepts
Dating Methods
Earth Processes
Life Processes
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Miocene Marine Life
In the seas, marine crocodiles were still common and lived as far north as Maryland. Many species of marine mammals also inhabited the seas, including baleen and toothed whales, seals, sea lions, walruses, and sea cows. Both toothed and baleen whales were particularly diverse during this period. One odd marine mammal that had appeared in the Oligocene and was common in the North Pacific Ocean during the Miocene was called Desmostylus. It had four legs that were well adapted both for living on land and for swimming, and its teeth were shaped like bundles of cylinders. Distant relatives of elephants and sea cows, Desmostylus and its kin were entirely extinct by the end of the Miocene.

Some of these marine mammals were undoubtedly preyed upon by the extinct giant-toothed white shark, Carcharodon megalodon. This giant shark is well-known from fossils along the east coast of North America. In fact, by this time most types of living sharks were present in all the world's seas. Many of the marine invertebrates of the Miocene were similar to those present today-echinoderms, snails, bivalves, crustaceans, and cephalopods were common. Marine animals of the ancient Paleozoic Fauna, such as brachiopods and crinoids, were rare. The first kelp forests are known from this time.


Epoch Overview | Terrestrial Life Throughout the Miocene | Miocene Marine Life
Shifting Continents and Changing Climates



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