An old pair of genes

I find many books on geology hard to take in, because of the way they throw in lots of different, but similar sounding, words describing the period they’re talking about. Eventually, I discovered that the terminology was changing . . .

A seven-cene play plots Earth’s most recent past:
There’s Holo– and Pleisto– (their time-spans aren’t vast);
Next Plio-, then Mio-, then Oligocene,
And finally Eo– and Palaeocene.

Nomenclature freaks who worked in seclusion
Once introduced –genes that increased confusion;
So –cenes three and four were called ‘Neogene’,
While –cenes five to seven were ‘Palaeogene’.

But genes such as these, with no DNA,
Were destined to gradually wither away.
So Neogene, Palaeogene you should delete
From elderly texts, for they’re quite obsolete*.

*Seems I was wrong! The International Committee on Stratigraphy uses them in their 2009 International Statigraphic Chart – see

[Chart: Society of America]
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