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pleistocenepleistocène (fr.); Pleistozän (ger.)

  • Originally: of, relating to, or designating the latter part of the Pliocene epoch (as containing the greatest number of fossil remains of modern species). In later use: of, relating to, or designating the earliest epoch of the Quaternary period, between about 1,640,000 and 10,000 years ago, following the Pliocene and preceding the Holocene.

    In the Appendix to the French translation of my ‘Elements of Geology’, I have proposed, for the sake of brevity, to substitute the term Pleiocene for Older Pleiocene, and Pleistocene for Newer Pleiocene.

    Lyell, C. (1839). On the relative ages of the Tertiary Deposits commonly called “Crag,” in the counties of Norfolk and Suffolk. The Magazine of Natural History 3, 313-330: 323.


    Je me suis proposé […] de substituer à la dénomination de Nouveau Pliocène celle plus abrégée de Pléistocène, tirée du grec pleiston plus et kainos récent.

    Lyell, C. (1839). Eléments de géologie (transl. T. Meulien): 621.


    warum die Übereinstimmung der Arten in freien Pleistocän-Schichten und in Knochen-Höhlen nicht noch grösser ist, als sie wirklich beobachtet wird

    Anonymus (1848). [Rev. Cotton, R.P. (1848). Das geologische Alter der Knochen-Höhlen. Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. 32, 119-123]. Neues Jahrbuch für Mineralogie, Geologie und Paläontologie 765-766: 766.


    The superficial deposits, or Pleistocene group, viz. all diluvial and alluvial deposits of gravel and other materials.

    Brewster, D. (1854). More Worlds Than One. The Creed of the Philosopher and the Hope of the Christian: 46.


    In former editions of this work I divided the Post-tertiary deposits into Recent and Post-pliocene, but this latter term has many inconveniences, especially that of often being cofounded with Post-tertiary. I have, therefore, determined for the future to adopt the name of ‘Pleistocene,’ proposed by me in 1839 as a synonym for Newer Pliocene, but which, having been used by the late Edward Forbes as the equivalent of Post-pliocene, has now passed into general use with that signification.

    Lyell, C. (1874). The Student’s Elements of Geology: 122.