The Holocene, which is the name given to the period of time that we now live in, began about 10 000 years ago. The placement of this arbitrary boundary in time was decided based on the apparent climate changes which occured at this point, for the beginning of the Holocene was marked by the start of the inter-glacial period which we are now living in.
As the iceage drew to a close, the world continents and oceans went through extensive changes. As the world's temperatures rose, global sealevels rose along with it, drowning many of the dry coastal plains which existed during the Pleistocene. Rivers changed their character and ceased to cut down further into their beds, instead meandering more and creating wide floodplains. And importantly for animals, vegetation zones shifted and changed in response to a rapidly changing climate.
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