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The PleistoceneAlso known by the obsolete term diluvium, it describes the older of the two series within the Quaternary, which began about 2.6 million years ago and lasted nearly 2.5 million years. After the term diluviumIn the early 20th century, when the myth of the Flood was first used, modern Pleistocene became the name of the word, derived from two ancient Greek words, meaning "predominantly new". Scientists today divide the Pleistocene into four stages, namely the Gelasium, the Early Pleistocene or Calabrium, the Middle Pleistocene or Ionium and the Late Pleistocene or Tarantium. The entire Pleistocene is characterized by several successive cold periods, so-called glacial, between which temporarily warmer temperatures prevailed.
The Pleistocene is that part of the Quaternary that is characterized by large temperature fluctuations and an average global temperature drop of up to 13 ° C. This not only caused widespread glaciation and icing on the polar ice caps, but also pronounced hot and cold periods in the temperate climates and rainy seasons and subsequent dry seasons in the warm areas of the earth. The cold periods are characterized by a widespread covering of the land mass with ice. As large oceans of water became ice, sea levels dropped in the Pleistocene, leading to the formation of some land bridges such as the Bering Bridge. The warm periods or so-called interglacials divide this epoch into three major icing periods.
Flora and Fauna (plants and animals):
Each ice age within the Pleistocene brought a phase in the temperate zones, in which the forests fell drastically and were replaced by a barren vegetation. In many parts of northern Europe, there were no trees in the Pleistocene during the cold periods, which led to the formation of dwarf shrub steppe and grasslands. These were populated by herds of giant mammals. Among the species of animals that lived in the Pleistocene, mammoths that reached body sizes of up to three meters. Giant deer, horses, rhinos and primeval cattle also lived in large herds in the forests and grass steppes of Europe. Wolves, saber-toothed tigers, smaller wildcats and cave lions were among the most widespread robbers in the Pleistocene. Those species that adapted to the climatic conditions of the cold period migrated north during the interglacial period, and heat-adapted animals invaded the more southerly areas. Therefore, rhinos, hippos, elephants or big cats (lion, leopard or tiger), which once populated Central Europe, are now found only in Africa and South Asia.
The Pleistocene is also significant for the appearance of the first humans. The early human Homo habilis first colonized Africa and then penetrated further and further into the north. The Neanderthals and Homo sapiens also appeared in the Pleistocene. While the Neanderthal man probably died out again due to adjustment difficulties, Homo sapiens prevailed and experienced a pioneering development in the Holocene from the nomad to the sedentary man.