A short but important Period – if only because it’s the one we’re currently living in!
The Quaternary Period
This period has lasted 2.6 million years – so far! It is divided into two series/epochs.
- Holocene Epoch 0 – 11,700 years ago
- Pleistocene Epoch 11,700 – 2.6 million years ago
Confusingly, some geologists have previously considered the Quaternary to have lasted from 1.8 million years ago (Ma). Even more confusingly some also did away with the Quaternary period altogether and considered it to be simply the latest part of the Neogene period which began 24 Ma. So if you find mention of these dates in books, don’t be too surprised!
Of interest is the more recent suggestion that the latest part of the Quaternary should be called the ‘Anthropocene’ (the Latin ‘anthropos’ means ‘man’). Proponents of this new term argue that since it is now mankind that is the dominant force for change across the planet, it is right that the present time (from the start of the Industrial Revolution in the late 18th century) should be labelled the Anthropocene Epoch!