The present climate has ice at both poles, and the ice volume has fluctuated episodically between the present amount and a considerably larger extent for the past two million years (about which more anon). However, the present icy climate is not at all typical of Earth history. A careful study of the climate evolution over the past seventy million years illustrates a transition between climate states archetypical of a theme that has been played over with variations during the 543 million years since the close of the Proterozoic. With this latest eon, known as the Phanerozoic, we complete the repertoire of the major divisions of geologic time, as summarized in Fig. 1.7. Though the very first preserved multicellular organisms appear at the close of the Proterozoic, the Phanerozoic is the eon in which multicellular organisms of a generally modern form become abundant and diversify, first in the ocean with colonization of land coming towards the middle of the eon. Though the Phanerozoic was not subjected to extreme variations of climate and atmospheric composition rivaling the Snowball or oxygenation transitions of earlier eons, the events of the Phanerozoic are by no means inconsequential.
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