Portal:Mesozoic

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The Mesozoic Portal

Diplodocus longus(2).jpg

Introduction

The Mesozoic era /mɛzˈzɪk/ is an interval of geological time from about 252 to 66 million years ago. It is also called the age of reptiles, a phrase introduced by the 19th century paleontologist Gideon Mantell who viewed it as dominated by reptiles such as Iguanadon, Megalosaurus, Plesiosaurus and what are now called Pseudosuchia.

Mesozoic means "middle life", deriving from the Greek prefix meso-/μεσο- for "between" and zōon/ζῷον meaning "animal" or "living being". It is one of three geologic eras of the Phanerozoic Eon, preceded by the Paleozoic ("ancient life") and succeeded by the Cenozoic ("new life"). The era is subdivided into three major periods: the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous, which are further subdivided into a number of epochs and stages.

The era began in the wake of the Permian–Triassic extinction event, the largest well-documented mass extinction in Earth's history, and ended with the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event, another mass extinction which is known for having killed off non-avian dinosaurs, as well as other plant and animal species. The Mesozoic was a time of significant tectonic, climate and evolutionary activity. The era witnessed the gradual rifting of the supercontinent Pangaea into separate landmasses that would eventually move into their current positions. The climate of the Mesozoic was varied, alternating between warming and cooling periods. Overall, however, the Earth was hotter than it is today. Non-avian dinosaurs appeared in the Late Triassic and became the dominant terrestrial vertebrates early in the Jurassic, occupying this position for about 135 million years until their demise at the end of the Cretaceous. Birds first appeared in the Jurassic, having evolved from a branch of theropod dinosaurs. The first mammals also appeared during the Mesozoic, but would remain small—less than 15 kg (33 lb)—until the Cenozoic.

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Selected article on the Mesozoic world and its legacies

Artist's restoration of Archaeamphora longicervia.
Archaeamphora longicervia is an extinct species of flowering plant and the only member of the genus Archaeamphora. Fossil material assigned to this taxon originates from the Yixian Formation of northeastern China, dated to the Early Cretaceous (around 145 to 101 million years ago).

The species was originally described as a pitcher plant with close affinities to extant members of the family Sarraceniaceae. This would make it the earliest known carnivorous plant and the only known fossil record of pitcher plants (with the possible exception of some palynomorphs of uncertain nepenthacean affinity).Archaeamphora is also one of the three oldest known genera of angiosperms (flowering plants). Li (2005) wrote that "the existence of a so highly derived Angiosperm in the Early Cretaceous suggests that Angiosperms should have originated much earlier, maybe back to 280 mya as the molecular clock studies suggested".

Subsequent authors have questioned the identification of Archaeamphora as a pitcher plant. (see more...)

Selected article on the Mesozoic in human science, culture and 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...)

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Life restoration of Protome batalaria.

Life restoration of Protome batalaria.
Photo credit: User:Smokeybjb

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Close up of Tryannosaurus "Sue" Skull at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, IL.

Topics

Geochronology - Triassic (Early - Middle - Late) - Jurassic (Early - Middle - Late) - Cretaceous (Early - Late)

Mesozoic landmasses - Pangaea - Gondwana - Laurasia - Africa - North America - South America - Antarctica - Asia - Australia - Europe - Appalachia - Laramidia

Major Mesozoic events - Mesozoic Marine Revolution - Carnian Pluvial Event - Triassic-Jurassic extinction event - Toarcian turnover - Cretaceous Terrestrial Revolution - Western Interior Seaway anoxia - Chicxulub impact - Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event

Triassic appearances - Belemnites - Crickets - Dinosaurs - Earwigs - Ichthyosauromorphs - Pseudosuchians - Pterosaurs - Sauropterygians - Testudinates

Jurassic appearances - Ammonitids - Ankylosaurs - Avialans - Caecilians - Carnosaurs - Caudates - Ceratopsians - Ceratosaurs - Coelurosaurs - Cryptodires - Dromaeosaurids - Equisetum - Frogs - Horse-flies - Lepidopterans - Lizards - Mammals - Ornithopods - Pterodactyloids - Sauropods - Snakeflies - Stegosaurs - Tyrannosauroids

Cretaceous appearances - Abalones - Anglerfishes - Ants - Bees - Catfishes - Copepods - Cormorants - Crocodilians - Flowering plants - Fowls - Geckos - Hadrosauroids - Hermit crabs - Lobsters - Mosasaurs - Ornithomimosaurs - Oviraptorosaurs - Pachycephalosaurs - Requiem sharks - Sea turtles - Snakes - Squids - Stingrays - Therizinosaurs

Fossil sites - Berlin–Ichthyosaur State Park - Petrified Forest National Park - Dinosaur National Monument - Dinosaur Valley State Park

Stratigraphic units - Chinle Formation - Elliot Formation - Ischigualasto Formation - Kimmeridge Clay - Morrison Formation - Oxford Clay Formation - Solnhofen lithographic limestone - Tendaguru Formation - Crato Formation - Dinosaur Park Formation - Djadochta Formation - Hell Creek Formation - Niobrara Formation - Two Medicine Formation - Wessex Formation - Yixian Formation

History - History of paleontology - Timeline of paleontology - Timeline of ankylosaur research - Timeline of ceratopsian research - Timeline of ceratosaur research - Timeline of dromaeosaurid research - Timeline of hadrosaur research - Timeline of ichthyosaur research - Timeline of plesiosaur research - Timeline of stegosaur research - Timeline of tyrannosaur research

Researchers - William Buckland - Edward Drinker Cope - Jack Horner - Othniel Charles Marsh - Gideon Algernon Mantell - John Ostrom - Sir Richard Owen - Harry Govier Seeley - Samuel Wendell Williston

Culture - Treatise on Invertebrate Paleontology - Vertebrate Paleontology - Walking with Dinosaurs - Jurassic Park

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