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"The Ice Age" redirects here. For other uses, see Ice Age (disambiguation).
Glyptodon - an old type of an animal related to the armadillo. It lived in South America during the Pleistocene.
A model of a mammoth - a hairy elephant that lived in the frozen north. The last mammoth died about 4,500 years ago.

The Pleistocene stage or epoch was a long period of time. It stretched from 2.6 million years ago to 11,700 years ago.[1] The Pleistocene followed the Pliocene. It is the first stage of the Quaternary period, and is followed by the present Holocene.

The Pleistocene was one long ice age: cold glacial periods with shorter, warmer, interglacials. Ice ages are when the world becomes much colder for a long time. Much of the world we know was covered by ice: North America down to and past the Great Lakes; all of northern Russia, and Europe; England down to the Thames.

Many animals that lived then have become extinct. Climate change and hunting by humans were responsible.[2] Many of the mammals were larger and hairier versions of animals that live now. Glyptodon was something like a giant armadillo, and mammoths were hairy elephants.

Ancient human species lived during the Pleistocene. In Europe and Asia the large-brained Neanderthal Man (Homo neanderthalensis) lived until about 30,000 years ago. Modern man did not descend from Neanderthals, but originated in Africa from another branch of the genus.[3]


  1. International Commission on Stratigraphy (ICS). ICS geologic time scale
  2. Martin P.S. and Klein R.G. eds 1984. Quaternary extinctions: a prehistoric revolution. Arizona, Tucson AZ.
  3. Klein, Richard G. 2009. The human career: human biological and cultural origins. 3rd ed, Chicago.