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The world has entered the Cenozoic era. By 49 million years ago (middle Eocene epoch), the earth had healed itself from the impact of the massive meteor strike. The dark and cold gave way to a much warmer climate where tropical rainforests covered all the continents. In what is now Germany, there was much volcanic activity with leaks of poisonous gasses. Sometimes, toxic gas became trapped under lake beds where large volumes accrued. In this manner a large volume of toxic gas was sometimes released at a single time, often when a strong enough earth tremor allowed the gas to escape the water's embrace. Yet, under the forest canopy there thrived a menagerie of weird and wonderful creatures, unaware of this lurking danger. Mammals were still small and it was the birds, descendants of the dinosaurs, who ruled as the top predators. (The story of this time period was well captured in the Messel shales of Germany).