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The tertiary consisted of two main epochs The Paleocene the Eocene and the Oligocene which make up the Paleogene and the Miocene and Pliocene which make up the Neogene The close of the Cretaceous Period marked a major transition in Earths history Ammonoids and marine reptiles disappeared from the sea Marine taxa that persist as familiar inhabitants of modern ocean among them bottom dwelling molluscs On the land the flowering plants of the Paleogene resembled those of latest Cretaceous time in many ways but animal life changed dramatically Taking the place of dinosaurs were the mammals which were universally small and inconspicuous at the start of the Paleogene interval but in many ways resembled modern mammals by the periods end The most profound geographic change during Paleogene time was a refrigeration of Earths polar regions which resulted in a chilling of the deep sea and later in the Cenozoic Era in widespread glaciation Paleogene mountain-building events in western North America foreshadowed Neogene uplifts of such ranges as the Sierra Nevada and the Rocky Mountains During the Neogene the modern world took shape The global ecosystems acquired their present configuration and prominent topographic features assumed the forms we are familiar with today No mass extinction marked the transition from the Paleogene to the Neogene During the 24 million years of the Neogene however life ad Earths physical features have changed significantly The most far-reaching biotic changes were the spread of grasses and weedy plants and the modernization of vertebrate life Snakes songbirds frogs rats and mice expanded dramatically too and humans evolved from apes The Rocky Mountains and the less rugged Appalachians took shape during the Neogene time as did the imposing Himalayas The Mediterranean Sea almost disappeared and then rapidly formed again The most widespread physical changes on Earth however were climatic Glaciers expanded across large areas of North America and Eurasia late in Neogene time The Paleocene was different climatically from
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