The Eocene (56.5-35.4 mya)
Eocene community (Smithsonian Institution 2000)
Eocene saw a continuation of the greenhouse conditons of the Paleocene
(WGBH 2001), and there is evidence to suggest that global temperatures
increased significantly at the beginning of this epoch (Prothero 1998).
The beginning of the Eocene marked the highest global temperatures of the
Cenozoic (Prothero 1998). After this temperature peak, plate tectonic activity
during the Eocene altered ocean and air circulation,
causing a global cooling and drying trend which continued throughout the
Cenozoic era (WGBH 2001). Although many areas of tropical rainforest declined
and were replaced by open woodlands, most of the northern hemisphere retained
its tropical and semi-tropical forests (Clabby 1976).