Palaeogene – Neogene

Formerly referred to as the Tertiary, the Paleogene and Neogene are the periods during which the present-day landscape of Southern German began to develop. Tectonic movements folded the Alps, the Upper Rhine rift collapsed, while tilting and erosion formed the South German Scarplands. This geologically active time interval is also called the Age of Mammals. However, the mammalian fossil record dates far back into the Mesozoic. 200 million years ago, mouse-sized mammals already lived in the shadow of the dinosaurs, and their remains are also found in Baden-Württemberg.

These early mammals were already able to maintain a high body temperature. No longer dependent on the ambient temperature or the sun for warmth, they were able to become nocturnal, remaining active after sunset. Evolution of their central nervous system increased the performance of their sensory organs. In addition, viviparity and low numbers of more precocial offspring increased their probability of survival. However, not until the extinction of the dinosaurs at the end of the Cretaceous 66 million years ago did they have the opportunity to occupy and adapt to the newly vacant niches.

The many body plans seen in the mammals of today all arose from mouse-sized forms at the end of the Cretaceous, They conquered all major environments. Manatees, dugongs, whales, and dolphins invaded the oceans, bats and flying foxes the air, and many others the land, including horses, deer, and proboscideans, inhabiting all climatic zones and habitats from the Arctic to the tropics, and from the plains to the mountains.

Ancient horse: Propalaeotherium messelense (juvenile)

Dugong: Halitherium

Barnacles: Balanus

Elefant: Deinotherium

Spider in ‚Böttingen Marble’ (Böttinger Marmor)

Hilgendorf's snails

Micromeryx

Euprox? Heteroprox?