added by archaeologs A time period in human history beginning with the retreat of glacial ice c 8500 BC and the changing climatic conditions following it; a development in northwestern Europe that lasted until about 2700 BC. This Middle Stone Age followed the Upper Paleolithic and preceded the Neolithic. It was a period of transition in the early Holocene between the hunter-gatherer existence and the development of farming and pottery production. Glacial flora and fauna were replaced by modern forms and the flint industries are often distinguished by an abundance of microliths. The equipment was designed for fishing and fowling as well as hunting and often included many tiny flints, or microliths, that were set in wooden shafts and hafts, and stone axes or adzes used for woodworking. Forests grew in Europe and people modified their lives accordingly. In the Near East, which remained free of ice sheets, climatic change was less significant than in northern Europe and agriculture was practiced soon after the close of the Pleistocene. In this area the Mesolithic period was short and poorly differentiated. In Britain the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition did not come until around 4000 BC. The dog was domesticated during the Mesolithic. The term is used widely only in European prehistory.