At right is pictured (in front), Chalicotherium, a Miocene mammal from Kazakhstan. Chalicotherium was an unusual "odd-toed hoofed mammal, or perissodactyl. Both the perissodactyls and artiodactyls underwent a period of rapid evolution during the Miocene.
The Miocene was a time of warmer global climates than those in the preceeding Oligocene, or the following Pliocene. It is particularly notable in that two major ecosystems first appeared at this time: kelp forests and grasslands. The expansion of grasslands is correlated to a drying of continental interiors as the global climate first warmed and then cooled.
Global circulation patterns changed as Antarctica became isolated and the circum-polar ocean circulation became established. This reduced significantly the mixing or warmer tropical water and cold polar water, and permitted the buildup of the Antarctic polar cap. Likewise, the African-Arabian plate joined to Asia, closing the seaway which had previously separated Africa from Asia, and a number of migrations of animals brought these two faunas into contact.
The chart at left shows the major subdivisions of the Neogene, the last portion of the Tertiary Period, including the Miocene. You may click anywhere on the other Epoch (Pliocene) or the arrows to navigate to those exhibits.
The Miocene Epoch is part of the Cenozoic Era.
UCMP Special Research: MIOMAP
Utilizing a Geographic Information System (GIS), the MIOMAP project is collecting and analyzing Miocene data from the western United States to examine how major environmental events have affected the diversity of animals in the past.
Find out more about the Tertiary paleontology and geology of North America at the Paleontology Portal.