third and current period of the Cenozoic era

The Quaternary is the current geological period. It is the most recent of the three periods of the Cainozoic era and the most recent of the twelve periods of the current eon, the Phanerozoic. The Quaternary follows the Neogene, which is the second period of the Cainozoic.

The woolly mammoth is an animal that lived in the Quaternary.

The Quaternary began about 2.6 million years ago, and continues today. A great deal of information is considered when geologists discuss the timing of periods.[1] The status of the Quaternary as a period is confirmed by the International Commission on Stratigraphy (ICS).

In the Quarternary were the glaciations known as the Ice Age. Also, anatomically modern humans evolved. During the Quaternary, many large mammalian species became extinct. This was due to climate change and hunting by humans.[2]

The Quaternary includes two geologic epochs:


  1. Gibbard P.L. et al 2007. Global chronostratigraphical correlation table for the last 2.7 million years v. 2007b., jpg version 844 KB. Subcommission on Quaternary Stratigraphy, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, England.
  2. Martin P.S. and Klein R.G. eds 1984. Quaternary extinctions: a prehistoric revolution. Arizona, Tucson AZ.