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Mesozoic Era, second of earth three major geologic eras of Phanerozoic time. Its name is derived from the Greek term for “middle life.” The Mesozoic Era began 252.2 million year ago, complying with the conclusion of the Paleozoic Era, and ended 66 million years ago, in ~ the dawn of the Cenozoic Era. (See the geologic time scale.) The major divisions that the Mesozoic Era are, from oldest to youngest, the Triassic Period, the Jurassic Period, and also the Cretaceous Period. The ancestors of major plant and animal groups that exist today an initial appeared during the Mesozoic, but this era is finest known as the moment of the dinosaurs.

Earth’s climate during the Mesozoic Era was usually warm, and there was less difference in temperature in between equatorial and polar latitudes than there is today. The Mesozoic was a time of geologic and biological transition. During this era the continents began to move right into their contemporary configurations. A distinct modernization of life-forms occurred, partly because of the demise of countless earlier varieties of organisms. 3 of the 5 largest massive extinctions in Earth history are connected with the Mesozoic: a mass extinction emerged at the boundary between the Mesozoic and also the preceding Paleozoic; an additional occurred within the Mesozoic at the finish of the Triassic Period; and also a 3rd occurred in ~ the boundary in between the Mesozoic and subsequent Cenozoic, causing the demise of the dinosaurs.


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Paleogeography and paleoceanography of so late Jurassic time. Contemporary coastlines and also tectonic borders of continents are presented in the inset in ~ the reduced right.
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Distribution the landmasses, like the mountain regions, shallow seas, and also deep ocean containers during late Cretaceous time. Had in the paleogeographic reconstruction are cold and warm s currents. The present-day coastlines and also tectonic boundaries of the configured continents are displayed in the inset in ~ the lower right.

As the continents rifted and also ruptured, special sequences of marine sediments collected in huge linear troughs follow me their margins. Ocean basin deposits the Jurassic age are found today in the circum-Pacific region, along the coastlines of eastern North America and the Gulf the Mexico, and on the spare of Eurasia and also Gondwana (that is, along the northern and also southern limits of the Tethys Sea).


Major mountain structure (orogeny) started on the western margins the both North and South America and also between the separating pieces of Gondwana. Because that example, the northwesterly motion of north America brought about a collision that the west edge that the phibìc American continent plate with a complicated of island arcs during the so late Jurassic. So-called exotic terranes, geologic pieces that different markedly in stratigraphy, paleomagnetism, and also paleontology indigenous adjoining continent crust, to be accreted come the margin that the north American plate. As thrusting occurred in one eastward direction, large granitic batholiths developed in what is now the Sierra Nevada selection along the California-Nevada border. Other remarkable episodes the mountain structure during the Mesozoic incorporate the Sevier and Laramide orogenies, which took location in western north America during Cretaceous time. These events produced the Rocky Mountains.

Mesozoic rocks space widely distributed, appearing in various parts that the world. A huge percentage of this rocks space sedimentary. At assorted times throughout the Mesozoic, shallow seas attacked continental interiors and also then drained away. During Middle Triassic time, a naval incursion—the Muschelkalk Sea—covered the continental inner of Europe. Seas again transgressed upon the continents in between the Early and Late Jurassic and in the beforehand Cretaceous, leaving considerable beds the sandstone, ironstone, clays, and limestone (see Solnhofen Limestone). A last significant transgression of marine waters flooded big segments of every the continents later in the Cretaceous. These sharp rises in sea level and also resultant an international flooding room thought come have had two causes. The first was warm global temperatures, which prevented large volumes that water from gift sequestered on soil in the kind of ice cream sheets. The second was connected to sped up seafloor spreading; the attendant enlargement of ocean ridges displaced enormous amounts of ocean water top top the landmasses. Maritime transgression to be so considerable that in phibìc America, because that example, a seaway spread out all the method from the Arctic come the Gulf the Mexico in the Cretaceous Period. Widespread deposition the chalk, clay, black shales, and also marl occurred. In parts of north America, lake and also river sediments well-off in dinosaur fossils were deposited alongside naval sediments. (See Morrison Formation.)

A comprehensive amount the igneous rock also formed during the Mesozoic. The orogenies the the Jurassic and also Cretaceous periods associated volcanism and also plutonic intrusion such as occurred during the emplacement the granites and andesites in the Andes of southern America during the so late Jurassic. 2 of the largest volcanic events in Earth’s background occurred during the Mesozoic. The main Atlantic Magmatic Province, a substantial volume that basalt, was developed at the end of the Triassic throughout the initial rifting the Pangea. The surface ar area of this igneous province originally covered an ext than 7 million square km (about 3 million square miles), and its rocks deserve to be uncovered today from Brazil come France. Despite such a massive volume of basaltic product extruded, volcanic task was probably short-lived, spanning just a few million years. In ~ the finish of the Cretaceous, another igneous province, the overwhelming basalts that the Deccan Traps, developed on what is now the Indian subcontinent. Some researchers have suggested that both the these huge igneous occasions may have actually injected far-ranging amounts the carbon dioxide and aerosols into the atmosphere, triggering a adjust in worldwide climate. The time of this volcanic events appears to overlap the Triassic-Jurassic and Cretaceous-Tertiary, or Cretaceous-Paleogene, massive extinctions, and they may have actually played a function in them.

Mesozoic life

The fauna and also flora the the Mesozoic to be distinctly different from those that the Paleozoic, the biggest mass die out in Earth background having developed at the boundary of the two eras, when some 90 percent of all naval invertebrate species and 70 percent the terrestrial vertebrate genera disappeared. In ~ the begin of the Mesozoic, the staying biota started a lengthy recovery the diversity and also total population numbers, and also ecosystems began to resemble those of contemporary days. Vertebrates, less severely impacted by the extinction 보다 invertebrates, diversified progressively throughout the Triassic. The Triassic terrestrial environment was conquered by the therapsids, sometimes referred to as “mammal-like reptiles,” and the thecodonts, ancestors the dinosaurs and also crocodiles, both the which showed up during the late Triassic. The very first true mammals, which were small, shrewlike omnivores, also appeared in the late Triassic, as did the lizards, turtles, and also flying pterosaurs. In the oceans, mollusks—including ammonites, bivalves, and also gastropods—became a dominant group. Fishes, sharks, and marine reptiles such together plesiosaurs, nothosaurs, and also ichthyosaurs additionally swam the Mesozoic seas.

Another significant extinction event struck at the close of the Triassic, one the wiped the end as much as 20 percent of marine families and many terrestrial vertebrates, including therapsids. The cause of this massive extinction is no yet known however may be regarded climatic and oceanographic changes. In all, 35 percent of the existing pet groups suffered extinction.

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In the seas the ammonites and brachiopods recovered from the late Triassic crisis, thriving in the heat continental seas. Ammonites rapidly became very common invertebrates in the maritime realm and are now crucial index fossils for worldwide correlation of Jurassic rock strata. Countless other pet forms, consisting of mollusks (notably the bivalves), sharks, and also bony fishes, flourished during the Jurassic. During the Jurassic and also Cretaceous, the ecology of marine ecosystems began to change, as displayed by a rapid boost in diversity of maritime organisms. It is thought that raising predation pressure caused plenty of marine biology to develop much better defenses and also burrow an ext deeply into the seafloor. In response, predators likewise evolved more-effective methods to record their prey. These alters are so far-ranging that castle are referred to as the “Mesozoic maritime Revolution.”

The dominant terrestrial vertebrates to be dinosaurs, i m sorry exhibited good diversity during the Jurassic and also Cretaceous. Birds are believed to have progressed from dinosaur ancestors throughout the late Jurassic. Ancestors of living vertebrates, such as frogs, toads, and salamanders, showed up on land in addition to the two important modern mammal groups, the placentals and the marsupials. Plant life also exhibited a gradual adjust toward more-modern forms throughout the course of the Mesozoic. Conversely, seed ferns had predominated in the Triassic, forests of palmlike gymnosperms well-known as cycads and conifers cooking under the tropical and temperate conditions that prevailed during the Jurassic. The an initial flowering plants, or angiosperms, had showed up by the Cretaceous. They radiated rapidly and also supplanted countless of the primitive plant teams to become the dominant form of vegetation by the finish of the Mesozoic.