Little Cayman is one of three islands comprising the Cayman Islands. It is located in the Caribbean Sea 60 miles northeast of Grand Cayman and five miles west of Cayman Brac. Little Cayman is by far the least populous, with a permanent population of about 170, it is about 10 miles long with an average width of 1 mile and most of the island is undeveloped. The entire island is at sea level; the highest elevation is about 40 feet. Little Cayman is known for its excellent scuba diving and birdwatching, unspoiled wildlife habitat and laid-back atmosphere. Despite its small size, the island hosts a heritage festival and parade as part of Pirates Week, the annual Mardi Gras celebration of the Cayman Islands and the Sister Islands Cook-off; the first recorded sighting of Little Cayman, along with Cayman Brac, was by Christopher Columbus on May 10, 1503 on his fourth and final voyage, when heavy winds forced his ship off course. At that time, he named the islands "Las Tortugas" for the many sea turtles found living there.
The islands were renamed "Las Caymanas" for the iguanas that were thought to be caimans living there. The first settlement on the island was in the 17th century. After a raid by a Spanish privateer, the settlements were abandoned in 1671 and the island was not resettled until 1833, when Blossom Village was established by a few families. By the early 20th century, a few hundred people lived on Little Cayman and exported phosphate ore and marine rope. Little Cayman is famous for its scuba diving; the most popular dive site areas, Bloody Bay and Jackson's Bight, are both located on the north side of the island, just west of its midpoint. The deeper sites on its south side are visited on winter days when the north side is too rough. Little Cayman features dive sites as shallow as 20 feet and its walls are deep enough to be infinite. Bloody Bay in particular is ranked as one of the world's top dive sites. Many dive operations claim the late Philippe Cousteau declared its wall to be one of the three best dives in the world, although this story may be apocryphal.
At its shallowest point, the drop-off begins at a depth of 18 feet, allowing divers who plan to achieve maximum depth of over 100 feet but still enjoy exceptionally long dive times. But the wall is so famous because sections of it are so sheer as to be vertical, a rarity; the most vertical section of the wall was immortalized in 1999 by the Bloody Bay Wall Mural Project. A crew of photographers directed by Jim Hellemn photographed the wall piece by piece and the images were compiled into a single detailed image of the entire wall; the photograph was reproduced in National Geographic magazine in 2001. In 2010, photographers returned to the same section of wall in an effort to create a comparison image showing changes over the intervening decade; the depth of Little Cayman's dropoffs is exaggerated by local divemasters claiming depths of 3,000 feet or 5,000 feet. In truth, the 1000 m contour has been charted to be one mile offshore on Little Cayman's South side, 2.5 miles offshore of Bloody Bay on the island's North side, distances far beyond the areas dived by recreational divers.
Little Cayman's reefs are exceptionally healthy for a dived area and inhabited by a full range of typical Caribbean reef life, from pipehorses to sharks, including a notable population of sea turtles. In 2010, local dive operators launched a concerted effort to eradicate the invasive, non-indigenous red lionfish, which appears to be limiting its population around Little Cayman. On Wednesday afternoons, divemasters from the various resorts on Little Cayman embark on lionfish kills to hunt and cull the species. Since the hunts began, more grey Caribbean reef sharks are noticeable on dives. Little Cayman's Booby Pond Nature Reserve supports the largest red-footed booby population in the Caribbean and is a designated Ramsar wetland of international importance; the site encompasses 82 hectares. The Cayman Islands National Trust building on one edge of the pond offers viewing decks with telescopes, the building itself is open for a couple of hours on weekday afternoons, it contains exhibits about Little Cayman's fauna.
Little Cayman has the only substantial population of the critically endangered Lesser Caymans iguana. Predation by cats and dogs, encroachment by humans into their habitat and road deaths have reduced their population on Cayman Brac to less than 100; the iguanas are easy to spot on Little Cayman and the National Trust unveiled a boardwalk in December 2013 that allows visitors to view one of their nesting areas. Little Cayman hosts the critically endangered hawksbill sea turtle, the threatened West Indian whistling duck known as the black-billed whistling duck; the Tarpon Lake, a salt pond near the center of the island, boasts an unusual population of landlocked tarpon, a large silver fish that lives only in the ocean. Owen island is a small islet off the south-western coast of Little Cayman; the only way to reach it is by boat, many visitors make the trip using a kayak or standup paddleboard to cross South Hole Sound Lagoon. The islet features no buildings, homes, or human habitation, making it popular for honeymooners and adventurers.
Little Cayman has many rocky beaches suitable for entry points for diving and snorkeling. But the island has only one fine swimming beach with an expanse of sand, a clean, sandy bottom and a protective reefline: Point of Sand. Currents are very strong, but
The Eocene Epoch, lasting from 56 to 33.9 million years ago, is a major division of the geologic timescale and the second epoch of the Paleogene Period in the Cenozoic Era. The Eocene spans the time from the end of the Paleocene Epoch to the beginning of the Oligocene Epoch; the start of the Eocene is marked by a brief period in which the concentration of the carbon isotope 13C in the atmosphere was exceptionally low in comparison with the more common isotope 12C. The end is set at a major extinction event called the Grande Coupure or the Eocene–Oligocene extinction event, which may be related to the impact of one or more large bolides in Siberia and in what is now Chesapeake Bay; as with other geologic periods, the strata that define the start and end of the epoch are well identified, though their exact dates are uncertain. The name Eocene comes from the Ancient Greek ἠώς and καινός and refers to the "dawn" of modern fauna that appeared during the epoch; the Eocene epoch is conventionally divided into early and late subdivisions.
The corresponding rocks are referred to as lower and upper Eocene. The Ypresian stage constitutes the lower, the Priabonian stage the upper; the Eocene Epoch contained a wide variety of different climate conditions that includes the warmest climate in the Cenozoic Era and ends in an icehouse climate. The evolution of the Eocene climate began with warming after the end of the Palaeocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum at 56 million years ago to a maximum during the Eocene Optimum at around 49 million years ago. During this period of time, little to no ice was present on Earth with a smaller difference in temperature from the equator to the poles. Following the maximum was a descent into an icehouse climate from the Eocene Optimum to the Eocene-Oligocene transition at 34 million years ago. During this decrease ice began to reappear at the poles, the Eocene-Oligocene transition is the period of time where the Antarctic ice sheet began to expand. Greenhouse gases, in particular carbon dioxide and methane, played a significant role during the Eocene in controlling the surface temperature.
The end of the PETM was met with a large sequestration of carbon dioxide in the form of methane clathrate and crude oil at the bottom of the Arctic Ocean, that reduced the atmospheric carbon dioxide. This event was similar in magnitude to the massive release of greenhouse gasses at the beginning of the PETM, it is hypothesized that the sequestration was due to organic carbon burial and weathering of silicates. For the early Eocene there is much discussion; this is due to numerous proxies representing different atmospheric carbon dioxide content. For example, diverse geochemical and paleontological proxies indicate that at the maximum of global warmth the atmospheric carbon dioxide values were at 700–900 ppm while other proxies such as pedogenic carbonate and marine boron isotopes indicate large changes of carbon dioxide of over 2,000 ppm over periods of time of less than 1 million years. Sources for this large influx of carbon dioxide could be attributed to volcanic out-gassing due to North Atlantic rifting or oxidation of methane stored in large reservoirs deposited from the PETM event in the sea floor or wetland environments.
For contrast, today the carbon dioxide levels are at 400 ppm or 0.04%. At about the beginning of the Eocene Epoch the amount of oxygen in the earth's atmosphere more or less doubled. During the early Eocene, methane was another greenhouse gas that had a drastic effect on the climate. In comparison to carbon dioxide, methane has much greater effect on temperature as methane is around 34 times more effective per molecule than carbon dioxide on a 100-year scale. Most of the methane released to the atmosphere during this period of time would have been from wetlands and forests; the atmospheric methane concentration today is 0.000179% or 1.79 ppmv. Due to the warmer climate and sea level rise associated with the early Eocene, more wetlands, more forests, more coal deposits would be available for methane release. Comparing the early Eocene production of methane to current levels of atmospheric methane, the early Eocene would be able to produce triple the amount of current methane production; the warm temperatures during the early Eocene could have increased methane production rates, methane, released into the atmosphere would in turn warm the troposphere, cool the stratosphere, produce water vapor and carbon dioxide through oxidation.
Biogenic production of methane produces carbon dioxide and water vapor along with the methane, as well as yielding infrared radiation. The breakdown of methane in an oxygen atmosphere produces carbon monoxide, water vapor and infrared radiation; the carbon monoxide is not stable so it becomes carbon dioxide and in doing so releases yet more infrared radiation. Water vapor traps more infrared than does carbon dioxide; the middle to late Eocene marks not only the switch from warming to cooling, but the change in carbon dioxide from increasing to decreasing. At the end of the Eocene Optimum, carbon dioxide began decreasing due to increased siliceous plankton productivity and marine carbon burial. At the beginning of the middle Eocene an event that may have triggered or helped with the draw down of carbon dioxide was the Azolla event at around 49 million years ago. With the equable climate during the early Eocene, warm temperatures in the arctic allowed for the growth of azolla, a floating aquatic fern, on the Arctic Ocean.
Compared to current carb
Limestone is a carbonate sedimentary rock, composed of the skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as coral and molluscs. Its major materials are the minerals calcite and aragonite, which are different crystal forms of calcium carbonate. A related rock is dolostone, which contains a high percentage of the mineral dolomite, CaMg2. In fact, in old USGS publications, dolostone was referred to as magnesian limestone, a term now reserved for magnesium-deficient dolostones or magnesium-rich limestones. About 10% of sedimentary rocks are limestones; the solubility of limestone in water and weak acid solutions leads to karst landscapes, in which water erodes the limestone over thousands to millions of years. Most cave systems are through limestone bedrock. Limestone has numerous uses: as a building material, an essential component of concrete, as aggregate for the base of roads, as white pigment or filler in products such as toothpaste or paints, as a chemical feedstock for the production of lime, as a soil conditioner, or as a popular decorative addition to rock gardens.
Like most other sedimentary rocks, most limestone is composed of grains. Most grains in limestone are skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as foraminifera; these organisms secrete shells made of aragonite or calcite, leave these shells behind when they die. Other carbonate grains composing limestones are ooids, peloids and extraclasts. Limestone contains variable amounts of silica in the form of chert or siliceous skeletal fragment, varying amounts of clay and sand carried in by rivers; some limestones do not consist of grains, are formed by the chemical precipitation of calcite or aragonite, i.e. travertine. Secondary calcite may be deposited by supersaturated meteoric waters; this produces speleothems, such as stalactites. Another form taken by calcite is oolitic limestone, which can be recognized by its granular appearance; the primary source of the calcite in limestone is most marine organisms. Some of these organisms can construct mounds of rock building upon past generations. Below about 3,000 meters, water pressure and temperature conditions cause the dissolution of calcite to increase nonlinearly, so limestone does not form in deeper waters.
Limestones may form in lacustrine and evaporite depositional environments. Calcite can be dissolved or precipitated by groundwater, depending on several factors, including the water temperature, pH, dissolved ion concentrations. Calcite exhibits an unusual characteristic called retrograde solubility, in which it becomes less soluble in water as the temperature increases. Impurities will cause limestones to exhibit different colors with weathered surfaces. Limestone may be crystalline, granular, or massive, depending on the method of formation. Crystals of calcite, dolomite or barite may line small cavities in the rock; when conditions are right for precipitation, calcite forms mineral coatings that cement the existing rock grains together, or it can fill fractures. Travertine is a banded, compact variety of limestone formed along streams where there are waterfalls and around hot or cold springs. Calcium carbonate is deposited where evaporation of the water leaves a solution supersaturated with the chemical constituents of calcite.
Tufa, a porous or cellular variety of travertine, is found near waterfalls. Coquina is a poorly consolidated limestone composed of pieces of coral or shells. During regional metamorphism that occurs during the mountain building process, limestone recrystallizes into marble. Limestone is a parent material of Mollisol soil group. Two major classification schemes, the Folk and the Dunham, are used for identifying the types of carbonate rocks collectively known as limestone. Robert L. Folk developed a classification system that places primary emphasis on the detailed composition of grains and interstitial material in carbonate rocks. Based on composition, there are three main components: allochems and cement; the Folk system uses two-part names. It is helpful to have a petrographic microscope when using the Folk scheme, because it is easier to determine the components present in each sample; the Dunham scheme focuses on depositional textures. Each name is based upon the texture of the grains. Robert J. Dunham published his system for limestone in 1962.
Dunham divides the rocks into four main groups based on relative proportions of coarser clastic particles. Dunham names are for rock families, his efforts deal with the question of whether or not the grains were in mutual contact, therefore self-supporting, or whether the rock is characterized by the presence of frame builders and algal mats. Unlike the Folk scheme, Dunham deals with the original porosity of the rock; the Dunham scheme is more useful for hand samples because it is based on texture, not the grains in the sample. A revised classification was proposed by Wright, it adds some diagenetic patterns and can be summarized as follows: See: Carbonate platform About 10% of all sedimentary rocks are limestones. Limestone is soluble in acid, therefore forms many erosional landforms; these include limestone pavements, pot holes, cenotes and gorges. Such erosion landscapes are known
Owen Roberts International Airport
Owen Roberts International Airport is an airport serving Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands. It is the main international airport for the Cayman Islands as well as the main base for Cayman Airways; the airport is named after British Royal Air Force Wing Commander Owen Roberts, a pioneer of commercial aviation in the country, is one of the two entrance ports to the Cayman Islands. Owen Roberts International Airport was the only international airport remaining in the Caribbean to have an open-air observation "waving gallery" until January 2017 when it was closed due to reconstruction; the new upgraded Owen Roberts International Airport terminal will no longer have an observation "waving gallery". The runway length includes a 130 metres displaced threshold on Runway 26; the Grand Cayman non-directional beacon is located 1.1 nautical miles short of the approach threshold of Runway 08. The Grand Cayman VOR/DME is located 0.25 nautical miles short of Runway 08. Wg Cdr. Owen Roberts was a Wing Commander in the Royal Air Force, during World War II.
Following the war, Roberts retired and founded Caribbean International Airways. By 1950, Roberts had established regular service between Tampa, Florida. During the early 1950s, Caribbean International Airlines was operating weekly seaplane service between Grand Cayman and both Tampa and Kingston with Consolidated PBY Catalina amphibian aircraft as the airstrip on Grand Cayman had yet to be completed. Roberts worked to lobby Cayman Islands Commissioners Ivor Smith and Andrew Gerrard to build airfields on all three of the Cayman Islands. In 1952, construction started on an official airstrip at an estimated cost of £93,000 to construct airports on all three Cayman Islands, a 5,000 ft runway, along with a terminal was constructed on Grand Cayman at the cost of £100,000. Owen Roberts had acquired two used Lockheed Lodestar twin prop airliners purchased to keep up with the competition whose interest was now piqued by the soon-to-be completed airfield at George Town; the inaugural flight of CIA, Ltd. from Kingston, Jamaica to Grand Cayman was set for 10 April 1953.
Tragically, the Lodestar piloted by Roberts crashed on takeoff from Palisadoes Airport. 13 people, including the 40-year-old Roberts, were killed. The only survivor of the crash was Roberts' brother-in-law, Lt. Col. Edward Remington-Hobbs. Roberts was survived by a wife and their two daughters, in London, his Grand son passed before him, his name was Will Roberts. He died in a car crash in East End with his best friend Spencer Grainger; the Grand Cayman Island Airport was named after the late Wg Cdr. Roberts in his honour. In 2007, the Cayman Islands Government announced plans to upgrade the existing airport. Plans include the expansion of the check-in area, the purchase of a new X-ray machine and baggage screening machine as well as the employment of additional passenger screening staff. Phase 1 of the project, the expansion of the airport's car parks and the airport's pick-up and drop-off locations have been completed. Additional renovations completed in 2012 include refurbishing the departure hall interior and livening up the passport control and customs hall with aquatic paintings and use of an aggressive digital advertising campaign in the baggage claim area.
In 2014, Airport Authority unveiled a new plan to perform major renovations at Owen Roberts International Airport as part of a master plan to renovate and redevelop all three Cayman Islands airports. The new plan would expand the current terminal building, passenger parking, public parking, staff parking, Taxi area, extend the current runway and in the middle to long term build a second terminal building called the Greenspace Terminal and a parallel taxiway; this new expansion will allow passenger airlines to fly their newer and larger aircraft to Owen Roberts International. British Airways serves the airport with Boeing 777-200 wide body aircraft; the BA operated 777 is the largest aircraft operating scheduled passenger service from Owen Roberts at the present time with flights to and from London Heathrow Airport via an intermediate stop in Nassau, Bahamas in both directions. The expansion will allow other airlines with wide body, long haul aircraft, such as the Airbus A330, Airbus A340, Boeing 747-400 and the Boeing 787-9, the opportunity to fly to Grand Cayman.
The expansion work began in 2015 with a temporary extended departure hall being added to accommodate passenger traffic while the tendering process is completed and construction commenced. On 9 March 2015, the Florida-based company RS&H, who are partnered with the Cayman Island Airport Authority, unveiled a new design for Owen Roberts International; this new design is based around the design criteria created by Canadian firm WS&P in 2014. Work on Owen Roberts estimated to cost around some $55 Million KYD. On 23 June 2015 it was confirmed by CIAA CEO Albert Anderson that construction work will start early August 2015, is estimated to be finished in 2 years. Late in August 2015 it was determined. A ground breaking ceremony took place on 10 September 2015. In late Oct 2015 it was announced that phase 2 of the expansion is expected to start in the early part of 2016. Phase 1 of the expansion was completed on time and on budget by June 2016. Phase 2 began in July 2016. Part of the phase 2 reconstruction was the removal of the famous and only A-frame open-air observation "waving gallery" in the region as it was closed to public in January 2017.
Terminal Building Expansion was completed late February 2019 and Grand Re-opening is expected on 27th March by Prince Charles on his
An earthquake is the shaking of the surface of the Earth, resulting from the sudden release of energy in the Earth's lithosphere that creates seismic waves. Earthquakes can range in size from those that are so weak that they cannot be felt to those violent enough to toss people around and destroy whole cities; the seismicity, or seismic activity, of an area is the frequency and size of earthquakes experienced over a period of time. The word tremor is used for non-earthquake seismic rumbling. At the Earth's surface, earthquakes manifest themselves by shaking and displacing or disrupting the ground; when the epicenter of a large earthquake is located offshore, the seabed may be displaced sufficiently to cause a tsunami. Earthquakes can trigger landslides, volcanic activity. In its most general sense, the word earthquake is used to describe any seismic event—whether natural or caused by humans—that generates seismic waves. Earthquakes are caused by rupture of geological faults, but by other events such as volcanic activity, mine blasts, nuclear tests.
An earthquake's point of initial rupture is called its hypocenter. The epicenter is the point at ground level directly above the hypocenter. Tectonic earthquakes occur anywhere in the earth where there is sufficient stored elastic strain energy to drive fracture propagation along a fault plane; the sides of a fault move past each other smoothly and aseismically only if there are no irregularities or asperities along the fault surface that increase the frictional resistance. Most fault surfaces do have such asperities and this leads to a form of stick-slip behavior. Once the fault has locked, continued relative motion between the plates leads to increasing stress and therefore, stored strain energy in the volume around the fault surface; this continues until the stress has risen sufficiently to break through the asperity allowing sliding over the locked portion of the fault, releasing the stored energy. This energy is released as a combination of radiated elastic strain seismic waves, frictional heating of the fault surface, cracking of the rock, thus causing an earthquake.
This process of gradual build-up of strain and stress punctuated by occasional sudden earthquake failure is referred to as the elastic-rebound theory. It is estimated that only 10 percent or less of an earthquake's total energy is radiated as seismic energy. Most of the earthquake's energy is used to power the earthquake fracture growth or is converted into heat generated by friction. Therefore, earthquakes lower the Earth's available elastic potential energy and raise its temperature, though these changes are negligible compared to the conductive and convective flow of heat out from the Earth's deep interior. There are three main types of fault, all of which may cause an interplate earthquake: normal and strike-slip. Normal and reverse faulting are examples of dip-slip, where the displacement along the fault is in the direction of dip and movement on them involves a vertical component. Normal faults occur in areas where the crust is being extended such as a divergent boundary. Reverse faults occur in areas.
Strike-slip faults are steep structures where the two sides of the fault slip horizontally past each other. Many earthquakes are caused by movement on faults that have components of both dip-slip and strike-slip. Reverse faults those along convergent plate boundaries are associated with the most powerful earthquakes, megathrust earthquakes, including all of those of magnitude 8 or more. Strike-slip faults continental transforms, can produce major earthquakes up to about magnitude 8. Earthquakes associated with normal faults are less than magnitude 7. For every unit increase in magnitude, there is a thirtyfold increase in the energy released. For instance, an earthquake of magnitude 6.0 releases 30 times more energy than a 5.0 magnitude earthquake and a 7.0 magnitude earthquake releases 900 times more energy than a 5.0 magnitude of earthquake. An 8.6 magnitude earthquake releases the same amount of energy as 10,000 atomic bombs like those used in World War II. This is so because the energy released in an earthquake, thus its magnitude, is proportional to the area of the fault that ruptures and the stress drop.
Therefore, the longer the length and the wider the width of the faulted area, the larger the resulting magnitude. The topmost, brittle part of the Earth's crust, the cool slabs of the tectonic plates that are descending down into the hot mantle, are the only parts of our planet which can store elastic energy and release it in fault ruptures. Rocks hotter than about 300 °C flow in response to stress; the maximum observed lengths of ruptures and mapped faults are 1,000 km. Examples are the earthquakes in Chile, 1960; the longest earthquake ruptures on strike-slip faults, like the San Andreas Fault, the North Anatolian Fault in Turkey and the Denali Fault in Alaska, are about half to one third as long as the lengths along subducting plate margins, those along normal faults are shorter. The most important parameter controlling the maximum earthquake magnitude on a fault is however not the maximum available length, but the available width because the latter varies by a factor of 20. Along converging plate margins, the dip angle of the rupture plane is shallow about 10 de
The Paleocene or Palaeocene, the "old recent", is a geological epoch that lasted from about 66 to 56 million years ago. It is the first epoch of the Paleogene Period in the modern Cenozoic Era; as with many geologic periods, the strata that define the epoch's beginning and end are well identified, but the exact ages remain uncertain. The Paleocene Epoch is bracketed by two major events in Earth's history, it started with the mass extinction event at the end of the Cretaceous, known as the Cretaceous–Paleogene boundary. This was a time marked by the demise of non-avian dinosaurs, giant marine reptiles and much other fauna and flora; the die-off of the dinosaurs left unfilled ecological niches worldwide. The Paleocene ended with the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum, a geologically brief interval characterized by extreme changes in climate and carbon cycling; the name "Paleocene" comes from Ancient Greek and refers to the "old" "new" fauna that arose during the epoch. The K–Pg boundary that marks the separation between Cretaceous and Paleocene is visible in the geological record of much of the Earth by a discontinuity in the fossil fauna and high iridium levels.
There is fossil evidence of abrupt changes in flora and fauna. There is some evidence that a substantial but short-lived climatic change may have happened in the early decades of the Paleocene. There are several theories about the cause of the K–Pg extinction event, with most evidence supporting the impact of a 10 km diameter asteroid forming the buried Chicxulub crater on the coast of Yucatan, Mexico; the end of the Paleocene was marked by a time of major change, one of the most significant periods of global change during the Cenozoic. The Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum upset oceanic and atmospheric circulation and led to the extinction of numerous deep-sea benthic foraminifera and a major turnover in mammals on land; the Paleocene is divided into three stages, the Danian, the Selandian and the Thanetian, as shown in the table above. Additionally, the Paleocene is divided into six Mammal Paleogene zones; the early Paleocene was cooler and drier than the preceding Cretaceous, though temperatures rose during the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum.
The climate became warm and humid worldwide towards the Eocene boundary, with subtropical vegetation growing in Greenland and Patagonia, crocodilians swimming off the coast of Greenland, early primates evolving in the tropical palm forests of northern Wyoming. The Earth's poles were temperate. In many ways, the Paleocene continued processes. During the Paleocene, the continents continued to drift toward their present positions. Supercontinent Laurasia had not yet separated into three continents - Europe and Greenland were still connected, North America and Asia were still intermittently joined by a land bridge, while Greenland and North America were beginning to separate; the Laramide orogeny of the late Cretaceous continued to uplift the Rocky Mountains in the American west, which ended in the succeeding epoch. South and North America remained separated by equatorial seas. Africa was heading north towards Europe closing the Tethys Ocean, India began its migration to Asia that would lead to a tectonic collision and the formation of the Himalayas.
The inland seas in North America and Europe had receded by the beginning of the Paleocene, making way for new land-based flora and fauna. Warm seas circulated including the poles; the earliest Paleocene featured a low diversity and abundance of marine life, but this trend reversed in the epoch. Tropical conditions gave rise including coral reefs. With the demise of marine reptiles at the end of the Cretaceous, sharks became the top predators. At the end of the Cretaceous, the ammonites and many species of foraminifera became extinct. Marine fauna came to resemble modern fauna, with only the marine mammals and the Carcharhinid sharks missing. Terrestrial Paleocene strata overlying the K–Pg boundary is in places marked by a "fern spike": a bed rich in fern fossils. Ferns are the first species to colonize areas damaged by forest fires. In general, the Paleocene is marked by the development of modern plant species. Cacti and palm trees appeared. Paleocene and plant fossils are attributed to modern genera or to related taxa.
The warm temperatures worldwide gave rise to thick tropical, sub-tropical and deciduous forest cover around the globe with ice-free polar regions covered with coniferous and deciduous trees. With no large browsing dinosaurs to thin them, Paleocene forests were denser than those of the Cretaceous. Flowering plants, first seen in the Cretaceous, continued to develop and proliferate, along with them coevolved the insects that fed on these plants and pollinated them. Mammals had first appeared in the Late Triassic, evolving from advanced cynodonts, developed alongside the dinosaurs, exploiting ecological niches untouched by the larger and more famous Mesozoic animals: in the insect-rich fo