second epoch of the Paleogene period

The Eocene was the second geological epoch in the Palaeogene. It began 56 million years ago, and ended 33.9 million years ago. Before it was the Palaeocene and, after it, the Oligocene.

The Eocene, like the Palaeocene before it, had a climate much warmer than today. At the start of the Eocene the Palaeocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum was reached. This lasted for 100,000 years, and caused a large extinction event. The land was heavily forested, with temperate forests into arctic and antarctic regions, and the many herbivorous mammals were browsers, not grazers.

The end of the Eocene was the beginning of the Oligocene (33.9 million years ago). It is marked by a large-scale floral and faunal turnover.[1] The extinction event was probably caused by meteorite strikes in Siberia and Chesapeake Bay: see Eocene–Oligocene extinction event.


  1. Ivany, Linda C.; Patterson, William P.; Lohmann, Kyger C. (2000). "Cooler winters as a possible cause of mass extinctions at the Eocene/Oligocene boundary" (PDF). Nature. 407 (6806): 887–890. doi:10.1038/35038044. hdl:2027.42/62707. PMID 11057663.