Portal:Cretaceous

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The Cretaceous Portal

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Introduction

The Cretaceous ( /krɪˈtʃəs/, kri-TAY-shəs) is a geologic period and system that spans 79 million years from the end of the Jurassic Period 145 million years ago (mya) to the beginning of the Paleogene Period 66 mya. It is the last period of the Mesozoic Era, and the longest period of the Phanerozoic Eon. The Cretaceous Period is usually abbreviated K, for its German translation Kreide (chalk, creta in Latin).

The Cretaceous was a period with a relatively warm climate, resulting in high eustatic sea levels that created numerous shallow inland seas. These oceans and seas were populated with now-extinct marine reptiles, ammonites and rudists, while dinosaurs continued to dominate on land. During this time, new groups of mammals and birds, as well as flowering plants, appeared.

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Selected article on the Cretaceous world and its legacies

Uplift of the Colorado Plateau during the Cretaceous had a profound impact on the geology of the Grand Canyon area.
The geology of the Grand Canyon area includes one of the most complete and studied sequences of rock on Earth. The nearly 40 major sedimentary rock layers exposed in the Grand Canyon and in the Grand Canyon National Park area range in age from about 200 million to nearly 2 billion years old. Uplift of the region started about 75 million years ago during the Laramide orogeny; a mountain-building event that is largely responsible for creating the Rocky Mountains to the east. The adjacent Basin and Range province to the west started to form about 18 million years ago as the result of crustal stretching. A drainage system that flowed through what is today the eastern Grand Canyon emptied into the now lower Basin and Range province. Opening of the Gulf of California around 6 million years ago enabled a large river to cut its way northeast from the gulf. The new river captured the older drainage to form the ancestral Colorado River, which in turn started to form the Grand Canyon. Wetter climates brought upon by ice ages starting 2 million years ago greatly increased excavation of the Grand Canyon, which was nearly as deep as it is now by 1.2 million years ago. Volcanic activity deposited lava over the area 1.8 million to 500,000 years ago. (see more...)

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Sculpture by Tyler Keillor of the Cretaceous snake Sanajeh indicus feeding on hatchling sauropod dinosaurs.

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Fossil of the Late Cretaceous ammonoid Pachydiscus duelmensis

A fossil shell of the pachydiscid ammonoid Pachydiscus duelmensis. The shell dates back to the Campanian age (72.1–83.6 million years ago) of the Late Cretaceous epoch and is about 20 cm in diameter. It was collected near Dülmen, Germany and is exhibited in the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin.
Photo credit: H. Zell

Selected article on the Cretaceous in human science, culture or economics

Edward Drinker Cope (left) and Othniel Charles Marsh (right).

The Bone Wars is the name given to a period of intense fossil speculation and discovery during the Gilded Age of American history, marked by a heated rivalry between Edward Drinker Cope and Othniel Charles Marsh. The two paleontologists used underhanded methods to out-compete the other in the field, resorting to bribery, theft, and destruction of bones. The scientists also attacked each other in scientific publications, attempting to ruin the other's credibility and cut off his funding.

Originally colleagues who were civil to each other, Cope and Marsh became bitter enemies after several personal slights between them. Their pursuit of bones led them west to rich bone beds in Colorado, Nebraska, and Wyoming. From 1877 to 1892, both paleontologists used their wealth and influence to finance their own expeditions and to procure services and fossils from dinosaur hunters. By the end of the Bone Wars, both men exhausted their funds in fueling their intense rivalry.

Cope and Marsh were financially and socially ruined by their efforts to disgrace each other, but their contributions to science and the field of paleontology were massive; the scientists left behind tons of unopened boxes of fossils on their deaths. The feud between the two men led to over 142 new species of dinosaurs being discovered and described. Several historical books and fictional adaptations have also been published about this period of intense paleontological activity. (see more...)

Geochronology

Epochs - Early Cretaceous - Late Cretaceous
Stages - Berriasian - Valanginian - Hauterivian - Barremian - Aptian - Albian - Cenomanian - Turonian - Coniacian - Santonian - Campanian - Maastrichtian
Events - Cambrian–Ordovician extinction event - Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event - Taconic orogeny - Late Ordovician glaciation - Alice Springs Orogeny - Ordovician–Silurian extinction event

Landmasses - Baltica - Gondwana - Laurentia - Siberia
Bodies of water - Iapetus Ocean - Khanty Ocean - Proto-Tethys Ocean - Rheic Ocean - Tornquist Sea - Ural Ocean
Animals - Articulate brachiopods - Bryozoans - Cornulitids - Crinoids - Cystoids - Gastropods - Graptolites - Jawed fishes - Nautiloids - Ostracoderms - Rugose corals - Star fishes - Tabulate corals - Tentaculitids - Trilobites
Trace fossils - Petroxestes - Trypanites
Plants - Marchantiophyta

Fossil sites - Beecher's Trilobite Bed - Walcott–Rust quarry
Stratigraphic units - Chazy Formation - Fezouata formation - Holston Formation - Kope Formation - Potsdam Sandstone - St. Peter Sandstone

Researchers - Charles Emerson Beecher - Charles Lapworth - Charles Doolittle Walcott
Culture - Animal Armageddon - List of creatures in the Walking with... series - Sea Monsters

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Current Cretaceous FACs - none currently

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