Thursday, December 16, 2010

Ode to the Cenozoic Era

In a world

where slick grasses once shimmered like quartz and the sun played organ crescendos across fields, the core of our spirits trumpeted through trunks of great woolly elephants blowin’ Dixie in primordial swamps like out a cab window on New Year’s Eve or the day the Giants won the world.

Now, in alarm, we take our tub to the river, pit the little round-bottomed boat against the stream’s flow, against the planet’s pull, against the powers of Zeus and his whole family, while our bones like feathers float over burnt field stubble raked by rhinoceros herds with pointed tusks, as we watch them snuffle in the extinguishing light.

In a world where jeopardy is the lot of goose and snake and the alphabet is useless, the mounds of burrowing owls stand empty, no gods, no words ascend their earthen thrones. In a world decaying, we survey the dimming space, sound a warning blast, sink into the mire, prepare to raise again.

Cenozoic means new life. The Cenozoic Era
began about 65 million years ago. It is the era
that's still going on today. It has 2 periods:

• The Tertiary Period

• The Quaternary Period
The Tertiary Period came first and lasted
from 65 million years ago until 1.8 million
years ago. During this time the earth was
warm with lots of rain. Dense forest covered
much of the land.

Just before the beginning of the Tertiary
Period there was a great extinction. The
dinosaurs all died. So did many other plants
and animals. This made room for the other plants
and animals that followed. The ones that survived
the extinction were able to adapt to the new
conditions. The new life that developed
during the Cenozoic Era were the mammals
and flowering plants.

The ice age marked the beginning of the
Quaternary Period about 1.8 million years
ago. It was very cold much of the time. Huge
glaciers covered a lot of the land. Some
animals like mammoths, rhinoceros, bison
and reindeer grew thick fur coats to help
them survive the cold. This was the time that
humans developed. In earth's time reference,
we evolved from an icy environment and
haven't been here very long.

By Doug Mann, from © 2005