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The small populations were then hunted out by Paleolithic humans.The global warming that occurred during the end of the Pleistocene and the beginning of the Holocene may have made it easier for humans to reach mammoth habitats that were previously frozen and inaccessible.
During interglacial times, such as at present, drowned coastlines were common, mitigated by isostatic or other emergent motion of some regions. Antarctica was ice-bound throughout the Pleistocene and the preceding Pliocene.
During the Pleistocene, the modern continents were essentially at their present positions; the tectonic plates on which they sit have probably moved at most 100 km (62 mi) from each other since the beginning of the period.
Climates during the Pliocene became cooler and drier, and seasonal, similar to modern climates. The formation of an Arctic ice cap around 3 million years ago is signaled by an abrupt shift in oxygen isotope ratios and ice-rafted cobbles in the North Atlantic and North Pacific Ocean beds.
According to Mark Lynas (through collected data), the Pleistocene's overall climate could be characterized as a continuous El Niño with trade winds in the south Pacific weakening or heading east, warm air rising near Peru, warm water spreading from the west Pacific and the Indian Ocean to the east Pacific, and other El Niño markers.
The Paleolithic is often held to finish at the end of the ice age (the end of the Pleistocene epoch), and Earth's climate became warmer.
South America became linked to North America through the Isthmus of Panama, bringing a nearly complete end to South America's distinctive marsupial fauna.