The modern continents were essentially at their present positions during the Pleistocene, probably having moved no more than 100 km since.
Pleistocene climate was characterized by repeated glacial cycles where continental glaciers pushed to the 40th parallel in some places.
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The Pleistocene has been dated from 1.806 million (±5,000 years) to 11,550 years before present (Lourens et al.
2004), with the end date expressed in radiocarbon years as 10,000 Carbon-14 years BP.
The epoch was intended to cover the recent period of repeated glaciations; however, the start was set too late and some early cooling and glaciation are now believed to be in the Gelasian stage at end of the Pliocene.
The end of the Younger Dryas has been dated to about 9600 (11550 calendar years BP).
Therefore, the Pleistocene is currently an epoch of both the longer Neogene and the shorter Quaternary.
The proposal of INQUA is to extend the beginning of the Pleistocene to the beginning of the Gelasian Stage, shortening the Pliocene, and ending the Neogene with the revised end of the Pliocene.
During interglacial times, such as Earth is experiencing now, drowned coastlines were common, mitigated by isostatic or other emergent motion of some regions. Antarctica was ice-bound throughout the Pleistocene as well as the preceding Pliocene.
The Andes were covered, in the south by the Patagonian ice cap. The current decaying glaciers of Mount Kenya, Mount Kilimanjaro, and the Ruwenzori Range in east and central Africa were larger.