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Age of the Reptiles

Age of Dinosaurs


Jurassic Period was the second
segment of the Mesozoic Era.
It occurred from 199.6 to
145.5 million years ago,
following the Triassic Period
and preceding the Cretaceous

The Jurassic Period began as a large

extinction took place at the end of the
Triassic period, approximately 208-200 ma,
and later extended to 144 million years
ago, roughly 64 ma to 56 ma total. At the
beginning, the continent, Pangaea, began
to separate significantly for the first time.
This may have given cause to the mass
extinction, as the separation would have
triggered a great deal of volcanic activity.
The resulting environment gave way to


During the Jurassic Period, the supercontinent

Pangaea split apart. The northern half, known as
Laurentia, was splitting into landmasses that
would eventually form North America and
Eurasia, opening basins for the central Atlantic
and the Gulf of Mexico. The southern half,
Gondwana, was drifting into an eastern segment
that would form Antarctica, Madagascar, India
and Australia, and awesternportion that would
form Africa and South America. This rifting,
along with generally warmer global
temperatures, allowed for diversification and
dominance of the reptiles known as dinosaurs.


The Jurassic was a time marked by
hugh level of plate tectonic activity,
such as spreading centres (rifts and
oceanic ridges) and mountain
building areas near subduction zone.
Jurassic rocks can be found on all
modern continents and some modern
seafloor. It include marine, marginal

During the Jurassic, spreading

centers and oceanic rifts formed
between North America and
Eurasia, between North America
and Gondwana, and between the
various segments of Gondwana
itself. In the steadily opening,
though still restricted, ocean
basins, there was a continuous

Underwater volcanic activity caused ocean

floor to spread and thereby bringing about
the rise of water levels. This caused much
of today's known land to be covered by
water and created shallow seas.
Nevadan orogeny, resulted in the
emplacement of massive igneous and
metamorphic rocks from Alaska to Baja
California. Granites formed in the Sierra
Nevadas during this time can be seen
today in Yosemite National Park, California.

The supercontinent Pangaea had started to split
into two smaller landmasses, called Laurasia
and Gondwana. These tectonic movements
made the oceans close up and the tectonic
plates sink into the Earth. This process, called
subduction, led to volcanism at the surface,
with rocks constantly melting and emitting CO2
into the atmosphere. Huge amounts of this
greenhouse gas made the climate during the
Jurassic Period extremely humid and warm.

The Earth during the Jurassic period

became a hospitable place for a wide
diversity of plants and animals, and
tropical to sub-tropical conditions
were the norm over much of the
planet's dry land.
The Jurassic period is known for a
climate characterized by rain-forestlike conditions.

As the temperature rose and humidity
increased the vegetation became much
denser and much more able to sustain much
more animal life. The Jurassic period became
a time of population explosion and while the
animals that roamed the Earth are perhaps a
little less recognized than the monsters of the
Cretaceous period, they were still animals the
likes of which the Earth had never seen

Land of the Giants

Dinosaurs are believed to have evolved in
to such huge creatures as a direct result
of the explosion of plant life during the
Jurassic period. As vegetation grew more
populous there was more food to feed
these growing beasts. The new climate of
the planet Earth also became conducive
to tree growth, as the trees continued to
grow thicker and taller dinosaurs had to

The dinosaurs are divided into two

groups based on a number of skeletal
characteristics: the
Ornithischians (bird-hipped).
Apatosaurus) appeared in the Early

1. Apatosaurus was an herbivorous

sauropod dinosaur

2. Allosaurus was the terror of the

Lower Jurassic Period a large
theropod dinosaur.

3. Stegosaurus an armoured
ornithischian dinosaur of the Upper
Jurassic Period

ornithischians (birdhipped The First Known


Jurassic Period Mammalian Life

Aside from dinosaur life during the
Jurassic period mammal life also
began to make its appearance in the
form of Therapsids with mammalian
features. Previously reptilian creatures
have, by the Jurassic period, begun to
show signs of mammalian evolution
including rat like teeth and suckling

1.The cynodonts, or 'dog teeth', were the

most successful and one of the most diverse
groups of therapsids.

2. The Castorocauda is a small semi-aquatic

mammal that was found in the upper
Jurassic period

Marine life
Marine life of the Jurassic Period was
also highly diversified. The largest
Plesiosaurs. These carnivorous marine
reptiles typically had broad bodies
and long necks with four flipper
shaped limbs. Plesiosaurus (which
means "near lizard") gave its name to

Plant life

Many coral reefs were formed and life, in general,

thrived. The warmth and humidity affected the
forest life and many large, thick forests began to
appear. Some of the most common plants were
large conifers and thick ferns.
True ferns were present during the Jurassic, but
gymnosperms (naked-seed plants) dominated the
terrestrial ecosystem. Gymnosperms originated in
the Paleozoic Era and include three groups: cycads
and cycadeoids, conifers, and ginkgos. They
proliferated to such an extent that the Jurassic has
been called the Age of Cycads..

End of Jurassic Period

Mamenchisaurus, pictured at the right)
lived during the late Jurassic period.
Conifers dominated the landscape.
There was a minor mass extinction toward
the end of the Jurassic period. During this
extinction, most of the stegosaurid and
enormous sauropod dinosaurs died out, as
did many genera of ammonoids, marine

Towards the late Jurassic,

widespread folding occurred
along North Americas western
border. The continents eastern
edge subsided and was below
water. Tectonic plates moved
apart, causing major mountain
formations. Because so much