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CREATURES OF THE MESOZOIC ERA

        The Mesozoic Era, meaning 'middle life' in Greek, stretched from 251-66 Ma, and was dominated by dinosaurs. Following the Permian-Triassic Extinction that eliminated 95% of the aquatic life on earth, plants and animals soon took over the near vacant surface and seas. Following the evolution of early reptiles including flying reptiles, and gymnosperms (flowering plants), the first true dinosaurs evolved. What made dinosaurs different was the positioning of their hind legs underneath them, rather than at their sides like previous reptiles.

       Biological changes continued on the land and sea, where modern fish as we known them began to evolve, dinosaurs occupied nearly every environment, and a change from conifer dominated forests to angiosperm (flowering plants) and hardwood tree species took place. Our ancestors, early mammals, also continued to develop larger brains and more specialized teeth, but remained small and rat-like due to abundant predators.  

        

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Geologic timescale of the Mesozoic Era (by M. Soukup, 2019)

What is the Mesozoic

WHAT IS THE MESOZOIC ERA?

WHAT WIPED OUT THE DINOSAURS?

The end of the Cretaceous Period, and by extension the Mesozoic Era is marked by the extinction of 90% of plankton species, 75% of plant species, and nearly every dinosaur on Earth. This extinction, known as the 'K-T Boundary Event,' was caused most infamously by a 13 km-wide asteroid that struck the modern-day Yucatan Penninsula in Mexico. Concurrent widespread volcanism pumping CO2 into the atmosphere contributed to the heavily polluted atmosphere laiden with ejecta material, suffocating photosynthesizing plants and devastating the food chain. 

To learn more about the K-T Boundary event, I encourage you to read more about the Alvarez Hypothesis, and the famous mineral iridium.

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A REEMERGENCE OF LIFE

Despite the devastating effects of the mass extinction event, life re-emerged in new forms during the Cenozoic Era, paving the way for humanity and the organisms we share the earth with today.

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