Portal:Mesozoic

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The Mesozoic Portal

Diplodocus longus(2).jpg

Introduction

The Mesozoic Era ( /ˌmɛsəˈzɪk, ˌm-, -s-/ or /ˌmɛzəˈzɪk, ˌm-, -s-/) 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 diapsids such as Iguanodon, Megalosaurus, Plesiosaurus and Pterodactylus. To paleobotanists, this Era is also called the Age of Conifers.

Mesozoic means "middle life", deriving from the Greek prefix meso-/μεσο- for "between" and zōon/ζῷον meaning "animal" or "living being". The name "Mesozoic" was proposed in 1840 by the British geologist John Phillips (1800–1874). 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 whose victims included the non-avian dinosaurs. 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 move into their current positions during the next era. The climate of the Mesozoic was varied, alternating between warming and cooling periods. Overall, however, the Earth was hotter than it is today. 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

Kolob Canyons from the end of Kolob Canyons Road.

The geology of the Zion and Kolob canyons area includes nine known exposed formations, all visible in Zion National Park in the U.S. state of Utah. Together, these formations represent about 150 million years of local sedimentation from the Late Permian to Early Cretaceous. Part of a super-sequence of rock units called the Grand Staircase, the formations exposed in the Zion and Kolob area were deposited in several different environments that range from the warm shallow seas of the Kaibab and Moenkopi formations, streams and lakes of the Chinle, Moenave, and Kayenta formations to the large deserts of the Navajo and Temple Cap formations and dry near shore environments of the Carmel Formation.

Subsequent uplift of the Colorado Plateau slowly raised these formations much higher than where they were deposited. This steepened the stream gradient of the ancestral rivers and other streams on the plateau. The faster-moving streams took advantage of uplift-created joints in the rocks to remove all Cenozoic-aged formations and cut gorges into the plateaus. Zion Canyon was cut by the North Fork of the Virgin River in this way. Lava flows and cinder cones covered parts of the area during the later part of this process. (see more...)

Selected article on the Mesozoic in human science, culture and economics

Gideon Mantell's original skeletal reconstruction of Iguanodon.
Paleontology or palaeontology (/ˌpliɒnˈtɒləi, ˌpæli-, -ən-/) is the scientific study of prehistoric life. It includes the study of fossils to determine organisms' evolution and interactions with each other and their environments (their paleoecology). As a "historical science" it attempts to explain causes rather than conduct experiments to observe effects. Paleontological observations have been documented as far back as the 5th century BC. The science became established in the 18th century as a result of Georges Cuvier's work on comparative anatomy, and developed rapidly in the 19th century. The term itself originates from Greek: παλαιός (palaios) meaning "old, ancient," ὄν, ὀντ- (on, ont-), meaning "being, creature" and λόγος (logos), meaning "speech, thought, study".

Paleontology lies on the border between biology and geology. It now uses techniques drawn from a wide range of sciences, including biochemistry, mathematics and engineering. Use of all these techniques has enabled paleontologists to discover much of the evolutionary history of life, almost all the way back to when Earth became capable of supporting life, about 3,800 million years ago. As knowledge has increased, paleontology has developed specialized sub-divisions, some of which focus on different types of fossil organisms while others study ecology and environmental history, such as ancient climates. Body fossils and trace fossils are the principal types of evidence about ancient life, and geochemical evidence has helped to decipher the evolution of life before there were organisms large enough to leave fossils. (see more...)

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Fossil of the Jurassic ammonoid Perisphinctes

A fossil shell of the Middle-Late Jurassic perisphinctid ammonoid Perisphinctes on exhibit at the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin, Germany.
Photo credit: Masur

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Life restoration of Laellynasaura.

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

Jurassic biota 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 biota 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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