The Triassic Period: Animals, Plants, And When it Happened

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The Triassic period, animals, plants and when it happened

The evolution of life on earth can be traced through the different geological periods of history. These periods show crucial historical moments and the end and beginning of an era or a species. Geological periods can further be divided into periods that give more details about evolutionary changes.

The Triassic period was the first of the Mesozoic era, a tropical and humid era. Each era and sub-period has an approximate number of years it spanned. Periods also have unique attributes that set them apart from other periods. Unique attributes can be certain species known to only exist at that time in history or an extinction event.

The Triassic period proceeds from the mass extinction event at the end of the Permian period. It was a period that saw life on earth evolve out of the waters and diversify on land. The continents were always a supercontinent.

This article will discuss the Triassic period and its animals and plants. We will also discuss other factors that contribute to or take away from life during this time.

What is the Triassic Period?

The Triassic period was the first of the three periods of the Mesozoic era. This era began with the desolate land of the great extinction. About 90% of the species have disappeared. This extinction gave rise to the evolution of new species and the repopulation of the survivors of the Great Mourant.

The Triassic period saw life evolve to adapt to the new realities of the earth. Life on earth has diversified and evolved new creatures. These new creatures include small mammals and the first dinosaurs. This period dates from between 252 and 201 million years ago. The Triassic period has three sections that feature eras of the period. These eras are:

  • Beginning of the Triassic: This section belongs to the first two epochs of this period; the Induan and Olenekian periods.
  • Middle Triassic: This section belongs to the two median epochs of this period: the Anisian and Ladinian epochs.
  • Upper Triassic: This section belongs to the three late epochs of this period; Carnian, Norian and Rhaetian periods.

This was a time when archosaur animals, which dominated for periods to come, evolved. These reptiles include the famous dinosaurs. As ecosystems recovered, life on earth began to evolve and diversify on earth. The lack of coal during the first million years of the Triassic period shows how long it took for factories to recover from the Great Death.

This period featured a one-world continent style, as the Earth had a vast landmass. This vast landmass is a giant supercontinent called Pangea. Pangea is the landmass from which today’s continents separated and separated over time. Pangea was a pole-to-pole land mass with a desert in the middle.

pangea
The Triassic period took place at a time when all the continents of the Earth were connected – Pangea.

Rashevskyi Viacheslav/Shutterstock.com

Pangea was surrounded by a vast expanse of water called Panthalassa. While the continent began to divide during this period, it did not. The connection of continents in Pangea made movement unrestricted for land animals that evolved. Moss and ferns covered the ground as there was no grass during this time.

The supercontinent began to separate about 199 million years ago. It started when the tectonic plates started to split in two. The division made Gondwana for the south and Laurasia for the north. Gondwanaland included Australia, India, Africa, Antarctica and South America. Laurasia included Europe, Asia and North America.

The poles lacked ice caps and coastal areas were hit by monsoons. Pangea’s dry interior persisted due to ocean circulation patterns, which kept it isolated.

When the Tethys Ocean filled Pangea, it induced the division of Pangea. Failed attempts to divide Pangea created fault valleys in Africa and North America. These Rift Valleys are full of red sediments that harbor the best preserved fossils of Triassic life.

Epochs of the Triassic period

As stated earlier, the Triassic period has seven epochs or sub-periods. These epochs are categorized into Early, Middle, and Late Triassic epochs. The eras include:

Early Triassic

Indian era

This epoch is the first epoch of the Triassic period dating from 251.9 to 251.2 million years ago. Proterosuchids and lystrosaurids were the only dominant land animals of this time. Most parts of the planet had no life and were hot, dry and deserted. Biodiversity at the global and community scales was low at this time.

Olenekian period

This epoch is the second epoch of the Triassic period, which dates from between 250 and 245 million years ago. This era comes from the Olenek (Olenyok) River in Siberia. It can be divided into Smithian and Spathian substages. The ancestors of the first archosaurs evolved around this time.

Middle Triassic period

Anisian period

This era lasted between 247 and 242 million years. It takes its name from a region of limestone deposits on the banks of the Anisus River. It had six biozones of ammonite species.

These biozones are the areas of; Hungarites, Nevadites, Paraceratites, Kocaelia, Acrochordiceras and Balatonites balatonicus. This era can be subdivided into three sub-stages. They are Bythinians, Lyrians, Pelsonians and Aegeans.

Lanidian period

This era lasted between 242 and 235 million years. The Ladini tribe of northern Italy inspires its name. It can be subdivided into Longobardian and Fassanian substages.

End of the Triassic

Carnian era

This era lasted between 237 and 227 million years. This period is not bordered by large extinctions but has an event called the Carnian Pluvial Episode. This episode saw extreme rainfall that led to biotic radiation and notable extinctions. The origin of its name is attributed to three sources; Carinthia in the Austrian region, the Carnic Alps or the historic Carnia of Northern Italy.

Norian era

This epoch lasted between 227 and 208.5 million years. It takes its name from the northern Alps of Austria. It has three sub-periods which are; Albanian, Sevatian and Lacian sub-periods. It has six ammonite species biozones. These biozones are the areas of; Halorites macer, Himavatites hogarti, Juvavites magnus, Guembelites jandianus, Cyrtopleurites bicrenatus and Malayites paulckei.

Rhaetian period

This epoch lasted between 208.5 and 201.3 million years. It takes its name from the Rhaetian Alps of Austria, Italy and Switzerland. This stage was documented in 1856 by Albert Oppel, a German paleontologist, and Eduard Suess, an Austrian geologist.

Triassic Period Animals

Marine life was filled with ammonites, sea urchins and molluscs. These animals were among the survivors of the Permian extinction. They diversified and the first corals evolved during this period. There were many species of invertebrates than in previous periods.

Other marine animals of the period include scallops, snails, and clams that evolved during this period. They have become the most diverse shelled invertebrates in the waters. amphibians continued to diversify, with the labyrinthodonts being one of the most common of the time.

They had flat heads and sharp teeth with small limbs. Lissamphibians evolved about 250 million years ago and were placed in fresh water. There were larger amphibians called Temnospondyls. They could grow up to 13 feet.

Dinosaurs did not eflighte in the early stages of this period. Land animals included vertebrates like Lystrosaurus, a small herbivorous reptile with mammalian characteristics. It was a very common terrestrial vertebrate at the time. The ichthyosaur evolved and ruled the seas 250 to 246 million years ago.

Dinosaurs first evolved around 240 million years ago. At the end of the Triassic period, the balance of dominance shifted between the archosaurs that evolved over time and the mammalian reptiles. Coelophysis was one of the first dinosaurs 225-220 million years ago. It was small at around 3 meters long and weighed 27 kg.

The first giant dinosaur evolved about 210 million years ago. This herbivorous dinosaur was the Plateosaurus which means “flat lizard”. Archosaurs became the dominant species in this period, with dinosaurs and other crocodilian predators being at the top.

Plateosaurus
The Plateosaurus was one of the main animals of the Triassic period

Daniel Eskridge/Shutterstock.com

Plant life during the Triassic period

This period began significant changes in the evolution of plants. Pines and other conifers evolved during this period. Plants like ferns, horsetail rushes, seed ferns and cycads were already thriving at that time. Plants from this period did not grow to the height of modern trees, and they were covered in a thick waxy substance.

The theory is that it helps prevent the plants from drying out due to the hot climate. These coatings may have caused the rounded and blunt teeth of the animals of the time. Other plants from this period include; mosses, lycopods, liverworts, ginkgophytes, lycopsids, bjuvia, filincophytes and araucaria.

There was a minor extinction 213 to 208 million years ago at the end of this period. This extinction was the result of an asteroid impact or a cooling climate. This extinction killed many animal and plant species. Labyrinthodonts, conodonts, amphibians and marine reptiles, excluding ichthyosaurs, disappeared.

Ichthyosaur
Following a minor extinction event, many animals from the Triassic period, such as ichthyosaurs, became extinct.

Dotted Yeti / Shutterstock.com

Conclusion

The Triassic period is a period that characterizes the last time the landmass of the earth was one. Pangea and the evolution of dominant and fearsome reptiles make this period an exciting evolution. While dinosaurs evolved later in the Triassic period, they belonged to an animal family of archosaurs that ruled this period. This period led to the Jurassic periodwhen dinosaurs were the main predators.

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