Pleistocene Epoch – Florida Fossils: Evolution of Life and Land

This video from the Museum’s Florida Fossils exhibit describes the Pleistocene Epoch, 2 million to 10,000 years ago. The ice ages of the Pleistocene wreaked climatic havoc on the northern continents, but Florida was buffered from the worst effects by the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Nevertheless, rapid pulses of climate change profoundly affected the area. During glacial periods (low sea levels), Florida was more than twice as large as it is today. Warmer periods (high sea levels) caused the peninsula to shrink in size.

The number of larger animals (megafauna) declined during the late Pleistocene, but scientists are unsure why these extinctions occurred. Changing climates or disease may have caused their demise. Perhaps the new predator in the region, Homo sapiens, hunted these marvelous animals to extinction. All we know with confidence is that their fossilized remains testify to their existence in Florida until about 10,000 years ago.