Hanyu Pinyin abbreviated to pinyin, is the official romanization system for Standard Chinese in mainland China and to some extent in Taiwan. It is used to teach Standard Mandarin Chinese, written using Chinese characters; the system includes four diacritics denoting tones. Pinyin without tone marks is used to spell Chinese names and words in languages written with the Latin alphabet, in certain computer input methods to enter Chinese characters; the pinyin system was developed in the 1950s by many linguists, including Zhou Youguang, based on earlier forms of romanizations of Chinese. It was published by revised several times; the International Organization for Standardization adopted pinyin as an international standard in 1982, was followed by the United Nations in 1986. The system was adopted as the official standard in Taiwan in 2009, where it is used for international events rather than for educational or computer-input purposes, but "some cities and organizations, notably in the south of Taiwan, did not accept this", so it remains one of several rival romanization systems in use.
The word Hànyǔ means'the spoken language of the Han people', while Pīnyīn means'spelled sounds'. In 1605, the Jesuit missionary Matteo Ricci published Xizi Qiji in Beijing; this was the first book to use the Roman alphabet to write the Chinese language. Twenty years another Jesuit in China, Nicolas Trigault, issued his Xi Ru Ermu Zi at Hangzhou. Neither book had much immediate impact on the way in which Chinese thought about their writing system, the romanizations they described were intended more for Westerners than for the Chinese. One of the earliest Chinese thinkers to relate Western alphabets to Chinese was late Ming to early Qing dynasty scholar-official, Fang Yizhi; the first late Qing reformer to propose that China adopt a system of spelling was Song Shu. A student of the great scholars Yu Yue and Zhang Taiyan, Song had been to Japan and observed the stunning effect of the kana syllabaries and Western learning there; this galvanized him into activity on a number of fronts, one of the most important being reform of the script.
While Song did not himself create a system for spelling Sinitic languages, his discussion proved fertile and led to a proliferation of schemes for phonetic scripts. The Wade–Giles system was produced by Thomas Wade in 1859, further improved by Herbert Giles in the Chinese–English Dictionary of 1892, it was popular and used in English-language publications outside China until 1979. In the early 1930s, Communist Party of China leaders trained in Moscow introduced a phonetic alphabet using Roman letters, developed in the Soviet Oriental Institute of Leningrad and was intended to improve literacy in the Russian Far East; this Sin Wenz or "New Writing" was much more linguistically sophisticated than earlier alphabets, but with the major exception that it did not indicate tones of Chinese. In 1940, several thousand members attended a Border Region Sin Wenz Society convention. Mao Zedong and Zhu De, head of the army, both contributed their calligraphy for the masthead of the Sin Wenz Society's new journal.
Outside the CCP, other prominent supporters included Sun Fo. Over thirty journals soon appeared written in Sin Wenz, plus large numbers of translations, some contemporary Chinese literature, a spectrum of textbooks. In 1940, the movement reached an apex when Mao's Border Region Government declared that the Sin Wenz had the same legal status as traditional characters in government and public documents. Many educators and political leaders looked forward to the day when they would be universally accepted and replace Chinese characters. Opposition arose, because the system was less well adapted to writing regional languages, therefore would require learning Mandarin. Sin Wenz fell into relative disuse during the following years. In 1943, the U. S. military engaged Yale University to develop a romanization of Mandarin Chinese for its pilots flying over China. The resulting system is close to pinyin, but does not use English letters in unfamiliar ways. Medial semivowels are written with y and w, apical vowels with r or z.
Accent marks are used to indicate tone. Pinyin was created by Chinese linguists, including Zhou Youguang, as part of a Chinese government project in the 1950s. Zhou is called "the father of pinyin," Zhou worked as a banker in New York when he decided to return to China to help rebuild the country after the establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1949, he became an economics professor in Shanghai, in 1955, when China's Ministry of Education created a Committee for the Reform of the Chinese Written Language, Premier Zhou Enlai assigned Zhou Youguang the task of developing a new romanization system, despite the fact that he was not a professional linguist. Hanyu Pinyin was based on several existing systems: Gwoyeu Romatzyh of 1928, Latinxua Sin Wenz of 1931, the diacritic markings from zhuyin. "I'm not the father of pinyin," Zhou said years later. It's a lo
The Cretaceous is a geologic period and system that spans 79 million years from the end of the Jurassic Period 145 million years ago to the beginning of the Paleogene Period 66 mya. It is the last period of the Mesozoic Era, the longest period of the Phanerozoic Eon; the Cretaceous Period is abbreviated K, for its German translation Kreide. The Cretaceous was a period with a warm climate, resulting in high eustatic sea levels that created numerous shallow inland seas; these oceans and seas were populated with now-extinct marine reptiles and rudists, while dinosaurs continued to dominate on land. During this time, new groups of mammals and birds, as well as flowering plants, appeared; the Cretaceous ended with the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event, a large mass extinction in which many groups, including non-avian dinosaurs and large marine reptiles died out. The end of the Cretaceous is defined by the abrupt Cretaceous–Paleogene boundary, a geologic signature associated with the mass extinction which lies between the Mesozoic and Cenozoic eras.
The Cretaceous as a separate period was first defined by Belgian geologist Jean d'Omalius d'Halloy in 1822, using strata in the Paris Basin and named for the extensive beds of chalk, found in the upper Cretaceous of Western Europe. The name Cretaceous was derived from Latin creta; the Cretaceous is divided into Early and Late Cretaceous epochs, or Lower and Upper Cretaceous series. In older literature the Cretaceous is sometimes divided into three series: Neocomian and Senonian. A subdivision in eleven stages, all originating from European stratigraphy, is now used worldwide. In many parts of the world, alternative local subdivisions are still in use; as with other older geologic periods, the rock beds of the Cretaceous are well identified but the exact age of the system's base is uncertain by a few million years. No great extinction or burst of diversity separates the Cretaceous from the Jurassic. However, the top of the system is defined, being placed at an iridium-rich layer found worldwide, believed to be associated with the Chicxulub impact crater, with its boundaries circumscribing parts of the Yucatán Peninsula and into the Gulf of Mexico.
This layer has been dated at 66.043 Ma. A 140 Ma age for the Jurassic-Cretaceous boundary instead of the accepted 145 Ma was proposed in 2014 based on a stratigraphic study of Vaca Muerta Formation in Neuquén Basin, Argentina. Víctor Ramos, one of the authors of the study proposing the 140 Ma boundary age sees the study as a "first step" toward formally changing the age in the International Union of Geological Sciences. From youngest to oldest, the subdivisions of the Cretaceous period are: Late Cretaceous Maastrichtian – Campanian – Santonian – Coniacian – Turonian – Cenomanian – Early Cretaceous Albian – Aptian – Barremian – Hauterivian – Valanginian – Berriasian – The high sea level and warm climate of the Cretaceous meant large areas of the continents were covered by warm, shallow seas, providing habitat for many marine organisms; the Cretaceous was named for the extensive chalk deposits of this age in Europe, but in many parts of the world, the deposits from the Cretaceous are of marine limestone, a rock type, formed under warm, shallow marine circumstances.
Due to the high sea level, there was extensive space for such sedimentation. Because of the young age and great thickness of the system, Cretaceous rocks are evident in many areas worldwide. Chalk is a rock type characteristic for the Cretaceous, it consists of coccoliths, microscopically small calcite skeletons of coccolithophores, a type of algae that prospered in the Cretaceous seas. In northwestern Europe, chalk deposits from the Upper Cretaceous are characteristic for the Chalk Group, which forms the white cliffs of Dover on the south coast of England and similar cliffs on the French Normandian coast; the group is found in England, northern France, the low countries, northern Germany, Denmark and in the subsurface of the southern part of the North Sea. Chalk is not consolidated and the Chalk Group still consists of loose sediments in many places; the group has other limestones and arenites. Among the fossils it contains are sea urchins, belemnites and sea reptiles such as Mosasaurus. In southern Europe, the Cretaceous is a marine system consisting of competent limestone beds or incompetent marls.
Because the Alpine mountain chains did not yet exist in the Cretaceous, these deposits formed on the southern edge of the European continental shelf, at the margin of the Tethys Ocean. Stagnation of deep sea currents in middle Cretaceous times caused anoxic conditions in the sea water leaving the deposited organic matter undecomposed. Half the worlds petroleum reserves were laid down at this time in the anoxic conditions of what would become the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Mexico. In many places around the world, dark anoxic shales were formed during this interval; these shales are an important source rock for oil and gas, for example in the subsurface of the North Sea. During th
The Jurassic period was a geologic period and system that spanned 56 million years from the end of the Triassic Period 201.3 million years ago to the beginning of the Cretaceous Period 145 Mya. The Jurassic constitutes the middle period of the Mesozoic Era known as the Age of Reptiles; the start of the period was marked by the major Triassic–Jurassic extinction event. Two other extinction events occurred during the period: the Pliensbachian-Toarcian extinction in the Early Jurassic, the Tithonian event at the end; the Jurassic period is divided into three epochs: Early and Late. In stratigraphy, the Jurassic is divided into the Lower Jurassic, Middle Jurassic, Upper Jurassic series of rock formations; the Jurassic is named after the Jura Mountains within the European Alps, where limestone strata from the period were first identified. By the beginning of the Jurassic, the supercontinent Pangaea had begun rifting into two landmasses: Laurasia to the north, Gondwana to the south; this created more coastlines and shifted the continental climate from dry to humid, many of the arid deserts of the Triassic were replaced by lush rainforests.
On land, the fauna transitioned from the Triassic fauna, dominated by both dinosauromorph and crocodylomorph archosaurs, to one dominated by dinosaurs alone. The first birds appeared during the Jurassic, having evolved from a branch of theropod dinosaurs. Other major events include the appearance of the earliest lizards, the evolution of therian mammals, including primitive placentals. Crocodilians made the transition from a terrestrial to an aquatic mode of life; the oceans were inhabited by marine reptiles such as ichthyosaurs and plesiosaurs, while pterosaurs were the dominant flying vertebrates. The chronostratigraphic term "Jurassic" is directly linked to the Jura Mountains, a mountain range following the course of the France–Switzerland border. During a tour of the region in 1795, Alexander von Humboldt recognized the limestone dominated mountain range of the Jura Mountains as a separate formation that had not been included in the established stratigraphic system defined by Abraham Gottlob Werner, he named it "Jura-Kalkstein" in 1799.
The name "Jura" is derived from the Celtic root *jor via Gaulish *iuris "wooded mountain", borrowed into Latin as a place name, evolved into Juria and Jura. The Jurassic period is divided into three epochs: Early and Late. In stratigraphy, the Jurassic is divided into the Lower Jurassic, Middle Jurassic, Upper Jurassic series of rock formations known as Lias and Malm in Europe; the separation of the term Jurassic into three sections originated with Leopold von Buch. The faunal stages from youngest to oldest are: During the early Jurassic period, the supercontinent Pangaea broke up into the northern supercontinent Laurasia and the southern supercontinent Gondwana; the Jurassic North Atlantic Ocean was narrow, while the South Atlantic did not open until the following Cretaceous period, when Gondwana itself rifted apart. The Tethys Sea closed, the Neotethys basin appeared. Climates were warm, with no evidence of a glacier having appeared; as in the Triassic, there was no land over either pole, no extensive ice caps existed.
The Jurassic geological record is good in western Europe, where extensive marine sequences indicate a time when much of that future landmass was submerged under shallow tropical seas. In contrast, the North American Jurassic record is the poorest of the Mesozoic, with few outcrops at the surface. Though the epicontinental Sundance Sea left marine deposits in parts of the northern plains of the United States and Canada during the late Jurassic, most exposed sediments from this period are continental, such as the alluvial deposits of the Morrison Formation; the Jurassic was a time of calcite sea geochemistry in which low-magnesium calcite was the primary inorganic marine precipitate of calcium carbonate. Carbonate hardgrounds were thus common, along with calcitic ooids, calcitic cements, invertebrate faunas with dominantly calcitic skeletons; the first of several massive batholiths were emplaced in the northern American cordillera beginning in the mid-Jurassic, marking the Nevadan orogeny. Important Jurassic exposures are found in Russia, South America, Japan and the United Kingdom.
In Africa, Early Jurassic strata are distributed in a similar fashion to Late Triassic beds, with more common outcrops in the south and less common fossil beds which are predominated by tracks to the north. As the Jurassic proceeded and more iconic groups of dinosaurs like sauropods and ornithopods proliferated in Africa. Middle Jurassic strata are neither well studied in Africa. Late Jurassic strata are poorly represented apart from the spectacular Tendaguru fauna in Tanzania; the Late Jurassic life of Tendaguru is similar to that found in western North America's Morrison Formation. During the Jurassic period, the primary vertebrates living in the sea were marine reptiles; the latter include ichthyosaurs, which were at the peak of their diversity, plesiosaurs and marine crocodiles of the families Teleosauridae and Metriorhynchidae. Numerous turtles could be found in rivers. In the invertebrate world, several new groups appeared, including rudists (a reef-formi
The simians or Anthropoids are the monkeys, incl. apes, cladistically including: the New World monkeys or platyrrhines, the Catarrhine clade consisting of the Cercopithecidae and apes. The simians are sister to the tarsiers; the radiation occurred about 60 million years ago. 40 million years ago, simians from Afro-Arabia colonized South America, giving rise to the New World monkeys. The remaining simians split 25 million years ago into Cercopithecidae. In earlier classification, New World monkeys, Old World monkeys and humans—collectively known as simians or anthropoids—were grouped under Anthropoidea, while the strepsirrhines and tarsiers were grouped under the suborder "Prosimii". Under modern classification, the tarsiers and simians are grouped under the suborder Haplorhini while the strepsirrhines are placed in suborder Strepsirrhini. Strong genetic evidence for this is that five SINEs are common to all Haplorhines whilst absent in Strepsirrhines - one being coincidental between tarsiers and simians would be quite unlikely.
Despite this preferred taxonomic division, prosimian is still found in textbooks and the academic literature because of familiarity, a condition likened to the use of the metric system in the sciences and the use of customary units elsewhere in the United States. In Anthropoidea, evidence indicates that the Old and the New World primates went through parallel evolution. Primatology, paleoanthropology, other related fields are split on their usage of the synonymous infraorder names and Anthropoidea. According to Robert Hoffstetter, the term Simiiformes has priority over Anthropoidea because of the taxonomic term Simii by van der Hoeven, from which it is constructed, dates to 1833. In contrast, Anthropoidea by Mivart dates to 1864, while Simiiformes by Haeckel dates to 1866, leading to counterclaims of priority. Hoffstetter argued that Simiiformes is constructed like a proper infraorder name, whereas Anthropoidea ends in -oidea, reserved for superfamilies, he noted that Anthropoidea is too confused with "anthropoïdes", which translates to "apes" from several languages.
Extant simians are split into three distinct groups. The New World monkeys in parvorder Platyrrhini split from the rest of the simian line about 40 mya, leaving the parvorder Catarrhini occupying the Old World; this group split about 25 mya between the apes. There are some lines of extinct simian, either placed into Eosimiidae and sometimes in Amphipithecidae, thought to originate in the Early Oligocene. Additionally, Phileosimias is sometimes placed in the Eosimiidae and sometimes categorised separately; the following is the listing of the various simian families, their placement in the order Primates: Order Primates Suborder Strepsirrhini: non-tarsier prosimians Suborder Haplorhini: tarsiers + monkeys, including apes Infraorder Tarsiiformes Infraorder Simiiformes Parvorder Platyrrhini: New World monkeys Family Callitrichidae: marmosets and tamarins Family Cebidae: capuchins and squirrel monkeys Family Aotidae: night or owl monkeys Family Pitheciidae: titis and uakaris Family Atelidae: howler and woolly monkeys Parvorder Catarrhini Superfamily Cercopithecoidea Family Cercopithecidae Superfamily Hominoidea Family Hylobatidae: gibbons Family Hominidae: great apes, including humans †Amphipithecidae †EosimiidaeBelow is a cladogram with some of the extinct simian species with the more modern species emerging within the Eosimiidae.
The Simians originated in Asia. It is indicated how many million years ago the clades diverged into newer clades; the Ekgmowechashalidae are considered to be Strepsirrhini, not Haplorhini. A 2018 study places Eosimiidae as a sister to the crown haplorhini. In a section of their 2010 assessment of the evolution of anthropoids entitled'What Is An Anthropoid', Williams and Kirk set out a list of biological features that are common to all or most anthropoids, including genetic similarities, similarities in eye location and the muscles close to the eyes, internal similarities between ears, dental similarities, similarities on foot bone structure. Simia, Carl Linnaeus's original classification of these primates. BioMed Central Full text Gene conversion and purifying selection of a placenta-specific ERV-V envelope gene during simian evolution ADW Simiiformes Classification Taxonomy browser Late middle Eocene epoch of Libya yields earliest known radiation of African anthropoids Mouse-Sized Primates Shed Light on Human Origins
Human evolution is the evolutionary process that led to the emergence of anatomically modern humans, beginning with the evolutionary history of primates—in particular genus Homo—and leading to the emergence of Homo sapiens as a distinct species of the hominid family, the great apes. This process involved the gradual development of traits such as human bipedalism and language, as well as interbreeding with other hominins, which indicate that human evolution was not linear but a web; the study of human evolution involves several scientific disciplines, including physical anthropology, archaeology, neurobiology, linguistics, evolutionary psychology and genetics. Genetic studies show that primates diverged from other mammals about 85 million years ago, in the Late Cretaceous period, the earliest fossils appear in the Paleocene, around 55 million years ago. Within the Hominoidea superfamily, the Hominidae family diverged from the Hylobatidae family some 15–20 million years ago. Human evolution from its first separation from the last common ancestor of humans and chimpanzees is characterized by a number of morphological, developmental and behavioral changes.
The most significant of these adaptations are bipedalism, increased brain size, lengthened ontogeny, decreased sexual dimorphism. The relationship between these changes is the subject of ongoing debate. Other significant morphological changes included the evolution of a power and precision grip, a change first occurring in H. erectus. Bipedalism is the basic adaptation of the hominid and is considered the main cause behind a suite of skeletal changes shared by all bipedal hominids; the earliest hominin, of primitive bipedalism, is considered to be either Sahelanthropus or Orrorin, both of which arose some 6 to 7 million years ago. The non-bipedal knuckle-walkers, the gorilla and chimpanzee, diverged from the hominin line over a period covering the same time, so either of Sahelanthropus or Orrorin may be our last shared ancestor. Ardipithecus, a full biped, arose 5.6 million years ago. The early bipeds evolved into the australopithecines and still into the genus Homo. There are several theories of the adaptation value of bipedalism.
It is possible that bipedalism was favored because it freed the hands for reaching and carrying food, saved energy during locomotion, enabled long distance running and hunting, provided an enhanced field of vision, helped avoid hyperthermia by reducing the surface area exposed to direct sun. A new study provides support for the hypothesis that walking on two legs, or bipedalism, evolved because it used less energy than quadrupedal knuckle-walking. However, recent studies suggest that bipedality without the ability to use fire would not have allowed global dispersal; this change in gait saw a lengthening of the legs proportionately when compared to the length of the arms, which were shortened through the removal of the need for brachiation. Another change is the shape of the big toe. Recent studies suggest that Australopithecines still lived part of the time in trees as a result of maintaining a grasping big toe; this was progressively lost in Habilines. Anatomically, the evolution of bipedalism has been accompanied by a large number of skeletal changes, not just to the legs and pelvis, but to the vertebral column and ankles, skull.
The femur evolved into a more angular position to move the center of gravity toward the geometric center of the body. The knee and ankle joints became robust to better support increased weight. To support the increased weight on each vertebra in the upright position, the human vertebral column became S-shaped and the lumbar vertebrae became shorter and wider. In the feet the big toe moved into alignment with the other toes to help in forward locomotion; the arms and forearms shortened relative to the legs making it easier to run. The foramen magnum migrated under more anterior; the most significant changes occurred in the pelvic region, where the long downward facing iliac blade was shortened and widened as a requirement for keeping the center of gravity stable while walking. A drawback is that the birth canal of bipedal apes is smaller than in knuckle-walking apes, though there has been a widening of it in comparison to that of australopithecine and modern humans, permitting the passage of newborns due to the increase in cranial size but this is limited to the upper portion, since further increase can hinder normal bipedal movement.
The shortening of the pelvis and smaller birth canal evolved as a requirement for bipedalism and had significant effects on the process of human birth, much more difficult in modern humans than in other primates. During human birth, because of the variation in size of the pelvic region, the fetal head must be in a transverse position during entry into the birth canal and rotate about 90 degrees upon exit; the smaller birth canal became a limiting factor to brain size increases in early humans and prompted a shorter gestation period leading to the relative immaturity of human
The Pliocene Epoch is the epoch in the geologic timescale that extends from 5.333 million to 2.58 million years BP. It is the youngest epoch of the Neogene Period in the Cenozoic Era; the Pliocene is followed by the Pleistocene Epoch. Prior to the 2009 revision of the geologic time scale, which placed the four most recent major glaciations within the Pleistocene, the Pliocene included the Gelasian stage, which lasted from 2.588 to 1.806 million years ago, is now included in the Pleistocene. As with other older geologic periods, the geological strata that define the start and end are well identified but the exact dates of the start and end of the epoch are uncertain; the boundaries defining the Pliocene are not set at an identified worldwide event but rather at regional boundaries between the warmer Miocene and the cooler Pliocene. The upper boundary was set at the start of the Pleistocene glaciations. Charles Lyell gave the Pliocene its name in Principles of Geology; the word pliocene comes from the Greek words πλεῖον and καινός and means "continuation of the recent", referring to the modern marine mollusc fauna.
H. W. Fowler called the term Pliocene a "regrettable barbarism" and an indication that "a good classical scholar" such as Lyell should have requested a philologist's help when coining words. To summarize the usage of these "regrettable barbarisms" in the labelling of the Cenozoic era: with the understanding that these are all new relative to the Mesozoic and Paleozoic eras. In the official timescale of the ICS, the Pliocene is subdivided into two stages. From youngest to oldest they are: Piacenzian Zanclean The Piacenzian is sometimes referred to as the Late Pliocene, whereas the Zanclean is referred to as the Early Pliocene. In the system of North American Land Mammal Ages include Hemphillian, Blancan; the Blancan extends forward into the Pleistocene. South American Land Mammal Ages include Montehermosan and Uquian. In the Paratethys area the Pliocene contains the Romanian stages; as usual in stratigraphy, there are many other local subdivisions in use. In Britain the Pliocene is divided into the following stages: Gedgravian, Pre-Ludhamian, Thurnian, Bramertonian or Antian, Pre-Pastonian or Baventian and Beestonian.
In the Netherlands the Pliocene is divided into these stages: Brunssumian C, Reuverian A, Reuverian B, Reuverian C, Tiglian A, Tiglian B, Tiglian C1-4b, Tiglian C4c, Tiglian C5, Tiglian C6 and Eburonian. The exact correlations between these local stages and the ICS stages is still a matter of detail; the global average temperature in the mid-Pliocene was 2–3 °C higher than today, carbon dioxide levels were the same as today, global sea level was 25 m higher. The northern hemisphere ice sheet was ephemeral before the onset of extensive glaciation over Greenland that occurred in the late Pliocene around 3 Ma; the formation of an Arctic ice cap is signaled by an abrupt shift in oxygen isotope ratios and ice-rafted cobbles in the North Atlantic and North Pacific ocean beds. Mid-latitude glaciation was underway before the end of the epoch; the global cooling that occurred during the Pliocene may have spurred on the disappearance of forests and the spread of grasslands and savannas. Continents continued to drift, moving from positions as far as 250 km from their present locations to positions only 70 km from their current locations.
South America became linked to North America through the Isthmus of Panama during the Pliocene, making possible the Great American Interchange and bringing a nearly complete end to South America's distinctive large marsupial predator and native ungulate faunas. The formation of the Isthmus had major consequences on global temperatures, since warm equatorial ocean currents were cut off and an Atlantic cooling cycle began, with cold Arctic and Antarctic waters dropping temperatures in the now-isolated Atlantic Ocean. Africa's collision with Europe formed the Mediterranean Sea, cutting off the remnants of the Tethys Ocean; the border between the Miocene and the Pliocene is the time of the Messinian salinity crisis. Sea level changes exposed the land bridge between Asia. Pliocene marine rocks are well exposed in the Mediterranean and China. Elsewhere, they are exposed near shores. During the Pliocene parts of southern Norway and southern Sweden, near sea level rose. In Norway this rise elevated the Hardangervidda plateau to 1200 m in the Early Pliocene.
In Southern Sweden similar movements elevated the South Swedish highlands leading to a deflection of the ancient Eridanos river from its original path across south-central Sweden into a course south of Sweden. The change to a cooler, seasonal climate had considerable impacts on Pliocene vegetation, reducing tropical species worldwide. Deciduous forests proliferated, coniferous forests and tundra covered much of the north, grasslands spread on all continents. Tropical forests were limited to a tight band around the equator, in addition to dry savannahs, deserts appeared in Asia and Africa. Both marine and co
The Ordovician is a geologic period and system, the second of six periods of the Paleozoic Era. The Ordovician spans 41.2 million years from the end of the Cambrian Period 485.4 million years ago to the start of the Silurian Period 443.8 Mya. The Ordovician, named after the Celtic tribe of the Ordovices, was defined by Charles Lapworth in 1879 to resolve a dispute between followers of Adam Sedgwick and Roderick Murchison, who were placing the same rock beds in northern Wales into the Cambrian and Silurian systems, respectively. Lapworth recognized that the fossil fauna in the disputed strata were different from those of either the Cambrian or the Silurian systems, placed them in a system of their own; the Ordovician received international approval in 1960, when it was adopted as an official period of the Paleozoic Era by the International Geological Congress. Life continued to flourish during the Ordovician as it did in the earlier Cambrian period, although the end of the period was marked by the Ordovician–Silurian extinction events.
Invertebrates, namely molluscs and arthropods, dominated the oceans. The Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event increased the diversity of life. Fish, the world's first true vertebrates, continued to evolve, those with jaws may have first appeared late in the period. Life had yet to diversify on land. About 100 times as many meteorites struck the Earth per year during the Ordovician compared with today; the Ordovician Period began with a major extinction called the Cambrian–Ordovician extinction event, about 485.4 Mya. It lasted for about 42 million years and ended with the Ordovician–Silurian extinction events, about 443.8 Mya which wiped out 60% of marine genera. The dates given are recent radiometric dates and vary from those found in other sources; this second period of the Paleozoic era created abundant fossils that became major petroleum and gas reservoirs. The boundary chosen for the beginning of both the Ordovician Period and the Tremadocian stage is significant, it correlates well with the occurrence of widespread graptolite and trilobite species.
The base of the Tremadocian allows scientists to relate these species not only to each other, but to species that occur with them in other areas. This makes it easier to place many more species in time relative to the beginning of the Ordovician Period. A number of regional terms have been used to subdivide the Ordovician Period. In 2008, the ICS erected a formal international system of subdivisions. There exist Baltoscandic, Siberian, North American, Chinese Mediterranean and North-Gondwanan regional stratigraphic schemes; the Ordovician Period in Britain was traditionally broken into Early and Late epochs. The corresponding rocks of the Ordovician System are referred to as coming from the Lower, Middle, or Upper part of the column; the faunal stages from youngest to oldest are: Late Ordovician Hirnantian/Gamach Rawtheyan/Richmond Cautleyan/Richmond Pusgillian/Maysville/Richmond Middle Ordovician Trenton Onnian/Maysville/Eden Actonian/Eden Marshbrookian/Sherman Longvillian/Sherman Soudleyan/Kirkfield Harnagian/Rockland Costonian/Black River Chazy Llandeilo Whiterock Llanvirn Early Ordovician Cassinian Arenig/Jefferson/Castleman Tremadoc/Deming/Gaconadian The Tremadoc corresponds to the Tremadocian.
The Floian corresponds to the lower Arenig. The Llanvirn occupies the rest of the Darriwilian, terminates with it at the base of the Late Ordovician; the Sandbian represents the first half of the Caradoc. During the Ordovician, the southern continents were collected into Gondwana. Gondwana started the period in equatorial latitudes and, as the period progressed, drifted toward the South Pole. Early in the Ordovician, the continents of Laurentia and Baltica were still independent continents, but Baltica began to move towards Laurentia in the period, causing the Iapetus Ocean between them to shrink; the small continent Avalonia separated from Gondwana and began to move north towards Baltica and Laurentia, opening the Rheic Ocean between Gondwana and Avalonia. The Taconic orogeny, a major mountain-building episode, was well under way in Cambrian times. In the early and middle Ordovician, temperatures were mild, but at the beginning of the Late Ordovician, from 460 to 450 Ma, volcanoes along the margin of the Iapetus Ocean spewed massive amounts of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere, turning the planet into a hothouse.
Sea levels were high, but as Gondwana moved south, ice accumulated into glaciers and sea levels dropped. At first, low-lying sea beds increased diversity, but glaciation led to mass extinctions as the seas drained and continental shelves became dry land. During the Ordovician, in fact during the Tremadocian, marine transgressions worldwide were the greatest for which evidence is preserved; these volcanic island arcs collided with proto North America to form the Appalachian mountains. By the end of the Late Ordovician the volcanic emissions had stopped. Gondwana had by that time neared the South Pole and was glaciated