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The Quaternary is the youngest geologic period that lasted from about 2.588 million years ago to the present. The Quaternary follows on the Neogene period. In the Quaternary many ice ages and interglacial periods have alternated. During the ice ages large ice sheets formed often in the northern hemisphere. The cause of the recurring ice ages are deviations in the position of the Earth's axis. See Milankovi? cycles.

Because the climate was rapidly changing in the Quaternary, relatively a large numter op species became extinct, but also many new species evolved. Modern humans spread across the Earth and today man has an increasing impact on the climate and environment.


The place of the quaternary in the  geological timescale (far left)

See also our article about the Geological Timescale.

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