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The Miocene (23.3-5.2 mya)

  miocene community
Miocene community (Smithsonian Institution 2000)
       After the cool temperatures of the Oligocene, the earth started to warm up again at the beginning of the Miocene, reaching a peak near the middle of the epoch, then cooling once more (Prothero 1998) and eventually causing an ice cap to form at the south pole (WGBH 2001).  The drying trend that started in the Eocene continued and intensified as the formation of mountain chains in Asia and North and South America changed air circulation patterns (WGBH 2001).  This meant that forests continued their decline, and the first extensive grasslands appeared in North America 
approximately 18 million years ago (Janis et al. 2002). Landscapes became more open as forests shrank, and the primitive grasses that appeared provided less food for herbivores than the vegetation that previously grew in the forested areas (Macfadden 1994).  

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