Old Earth Ministries Online Earth History Curriculum

Presented by Old Earth Ministries (We Believe in an Old Earth...and God!)

This curriculum is presented free of charge for use by homeschooling families.

NOTE:  If you found this page through a search engine, please visit the intro page first.


Chapter 14 - The Quaternary Period

Lesson 67: Quaternary Overview


      The Quaternary Period is the most recent of the three periods of the Cenozoic Era in the geologic time scale.  It follows the Tertiary Period, spanning 2.588 ± 0.005 million years ago to the present. The Quaternary includes two geologic epochs: the Pleistocene and the Holocene Epochs.  The Quaternary covers the time span of glaciations classified as the Pleistocene, and includes the present interglacial period, the Holocene. This places the start of the Quaternary at the onset of Northern Hemisphere glaciation approximately 2.6 million years ago and includes portions of what has sometimes been classified as the upper Pliocene.


Chapter 14: The Quaternary Period


  Lesson 67: Quaternary Overview

  Lesson 68: The Pleistocene Epoch

  Lesson 69: The Holocene Epoch

  Lesson 70: Glaciation

  Lesson 71: The Yellowstone Supervolcano


Quaternary Fast Facts


Started:  2.588 Ma

Ended:  Still Ongoing

Preceded By: Paleogene Period

Followed By: The New Earth (Revelation 21:1)




     The 2.6 million years of the Quaternary represents the time during which recognizable humans existed. Over this short a time period, the total amount of continental drift was less than 100 km, which is largely irrelevant to paleontology. Nonetheless, the geological record is preserved in greater detail than that for earlier periods, and is most relatable to the maps of today, revealing in the second half of the twentieth century its own series of extraordinary landform changes. The major geographical changes during this time period included emergence of the Strait of Bosphorus and Skagerrak during glacial epochs, which respectively turned the Black Sea and Baltic Sea into fresh water, followed by their flooding (and return to salt water) by rising sea level; the periodic filling of the English Channel, forming a land bridge between Britain and the European mainland; the periodic closing of the Bering Strait, forming the land bridge between Asia and North America; and the periodic flash flooding of Scablands of the American Northwest by glacial water. The Great Lakes and other major lakes of Canada, and Hudson Bay, are also just the results of the last cycle, and are temporary. Following every other ice age within the Quaternary, there was a different pattern of lakes and bays.

     The climate was one of periodic glaciations with continental glaciers moving as far from the poles as 40 degrees latitude. Few major new animals evolved, again presumably because of the short—in geologic terms—duration of the period. There was a major extinction of large mammals in Northern areas at the end of the Pleistocene Epoch. Many forms such as saber-toothed cats, mammoths, mastodons, glyptodonts, etc., became extinct worldwide. Others, including horses, camels and cheetahs became extinct in North America.


End of Reading

horizontal rule

Return to the Old Earth Ministries Online Earth History Curriculum homepage.

Source: Quaternary Period