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The 31-DEC-12 is actually 31-DEC-4712 which is considered to be the Dooms day (End of World) by Oracle. Whenever you create a record the effective end date is automatically set to this date and when you do any updates in UPDATE mode then this effective end date will get updated to effective date -1 and a new record will get inserted with effective start date as effective date and again the effective end date as Dooms day.
Hope it helps.