Page:The Outline of History Vol 1.djvu/75

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VII

THE AGE OF MAMMALS

§ 1. A New Age of Light. § 2. Tradition Comes into the World. § 3. An Age of Brain Growth. § 4. The World Grows Hard Again. § 5. Chronology of the Ice Age.
 

§ 1

THE third great division of the geological record, the Cainozoic, opens with a world already physically very like the world we live in to-day. Probably the day was at first still perceptibly shorter, but the scenery had become very modern in its character. Climate was, of course, undergoing, age by age, its incessant and irregular variations; lands that are temperate to-day have passed, since the Cainozoic age began, through phases of great warmth, intense cold, and extreme dryness; but the landscape, if it altered, altered to nothing that cannot still be paralleled to-day in some part of the world or other. In the place of the cycads, sequoias, and strange conifers of the Mesozoic, the plant names that now appear in the lists of fossils include birch, beech, holly, tulip trees, ivy, sweet gum, bread-fruit trees. Flowers had developed concurrently with bees and butterflies. Palms were now very important. Such plants had already been in evidence in the later levels of the (American Cretaceous) Mesozoic, but now they dominated the scene altogether. Grass was becoming a great fact in the world. Certain grasses, too, had appeared in the later Mesozoic, but only with the Cainozoic period came grass plains and turf spreading wide over a world that was once barren stone.

The period opened with a long phase of considerable warmth; then the world cooled. And in the opening of this third part

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