Triassic

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Sandstone rock from Triassic age.
The Triassic is a geologic period that extends from about 251 to 199 Ma (million years ago). As the first period of the Mesozoic Era, the Triassic follows the Permian and is followed by the Jurassic. Both the start and end of the Triassic are marked by major extinction events. The extinction event that closed the Triassic period has recently been more accurately dated, but as with most older geologic periods, the rock beds that define the start and end are well identified, but the exact dates of the start and end of the period are uncertain by a few million years.

During the Triassic, both marine and continental life show an adaptive radiation beginning from the starkly impoverished biosphere that followed the Permian-Triassic extinction. Corals of the hexacorallia group made their first appearance. The first flowering plants (Angiosperms) may have evolved during the Triassic, as did the first flying vertebrates, the pterosaurs.

Mesozoic era
Triassic Jurassic Cretaceous

Dating and subdivisions

The Triassic was named in 1834 by Friedrich Von Alberti from the three distinct layers (Latin trias meaning ) —red beds, capped by chalk, followed by black shales— that are found throughout Germany and northwest Europe, called the 'Trias'.

The Triassic is usually separated into Early, Middle, and Late Triassic Epochs, and the corresponding rocks are referred to as Lower, Middle, or Upper Triassic. The faunal stages from the youngest to oldest are:

Upper/Late Triassic (Tr3)
  Rhaetian(203.6 ± 1.5 – 199.6 ± 0.6 Ma)
  Norian(216.5 ± 2.0 – 203.6 ± 1.5 Ma)
  Carnian(228.0 ± 2.0 – 216.5 ± 2.0 Ma)
Middle Triassic (Tr2)
  Ladinian(237.0 ± 2.0 – 228.0 ± 2.0 Ma)
  Anisian(245.0 ± 1.5 – 237.0 ± 2.0 Ma)
Lower/Early Triassic (Scythian)
  Olenekian(249.7 ± 0.7 – 245.0 ± 1.5 Ma)
  Induan(251.0 ± 0.4 – 249.7 ± 0.7 Ma)

Paleogeography

During the Triassic, almost all the Earth's land mass was concentrated into a single supercontinent centered more or less on the equator, called Pangaea ("all the land"). This took the form of a giant "Pac-Man" with an east-facing "mouth" constituting the Tethys sea, a vast gulf that opened farther westward in the mid-Triassic, at the expense of the shrinking Paleo-Tethys Ocean, an ocean that existed during the Paleozoic. The remainder was the world-ocean known as Panthalassa ("all the sea"). All the deep-ocean sediments laid down during the Triassic have disappeared through subduction of oceanic plates; thus, very little is known of the Triassic open ocean.

The supercontinent Pangaea was rifting during the Triassic—especially late in the period—but had not yet separated. The first nonmarine sediments in the rift that marks the initial break-up of Pangea—which separated New Jersey from Morocco—are of Late Triassic age; in the U.S., these thick sediments comprise the Newark Group.[1] Because of the limited shoreline of one super-continental mass, Triassic marine deposits are globally relatively rare, despite their prominence in Western Europe, where the Triassic was first studied. In North America, for example, marine deposits are limited to a few exposures in the west. Thus Triassic stratigraphy is mostly based on organisms living in lagoons and hypersaline environments, such as Estheria crustaceans.

Climate

The Triassic climate was generally hot and dry, forming typical red bed sandstones and evaporites. There is no evidence of glaciation at or near either pole; in fact, the polar regions were apparently moist and temperate, a climate suitable for reptile-like creatures. Pangaea's large size limited the moderating effect of the global ocean; its continental climate was highly seasonal, with very hot summers and cold winters.[2] It probably had strong, cross-equatorial monsoons.[3]

Life

Three categories of organisms can be distinguished in the Triassic record: holdovers from the Permian-Triassic extinction, new groups which flourished briefly, and other new groups which went on to dominate the Mesozoic world. The climate was also very dry and hot and many dinosaurs had to adapt to the climate.

In marine environments, new modern types of corals appeared in the Early Triassic, forming small patches of reefs of modest extent compared to the great reef systems of Devonian times or modern reefs. The shelled cephalopods called Ammonites recovered, diversifying from a single line that survived the Permian extinction. The fish fauna was remarkably uniform, reflecting the fact that very few families survived the Permian extinction. There were also many types of marine reptiles. These included the Sauropterygia, which featured pachypleurosaurs and nothosaurs (both common during the Middle Triassic, especially in the Tethys region), placodonts, and the first plesiosaurs; the first of the lizardlike Thalattosauria (Askeptosaurs); and the highly successful ichthyosaurs, which appeared in Early Triassic seas and soon diversified, some eventually developing to huge size during the late Triassic.

On land, the holdover plants included the lycophytes, the dominant cycads, ginkgophyta (represented in modern times by Ginkgo biloba) and glossopterids. The Spermatophytes, or seed plants came to dominate the terrestrial flora: in the northern hemisphere, conifers flourished. Glossopteris (a seed fern) was the dominant southern hemisphere tree during the Early Triassic period.

Temnospondyl amphibians were among those groups that survived the P-T extinction, some lineages (e.g. Trematosaurs) flourishing briefly in the Early Triassic, while others (e.g. Capitosaurs) remained successful throughout the whole period, or only came to prominence in the Late Triassic (e.g. Plagiosaurs, Metoposaurs). As for other amphibians, the first Lissamphibia are known from the Early Triassic, but the group as a whole did not become common until the Jurassic, when the temnospondyls had become very rare.

Archosauromorph reptiles — especially archosaurs — progressively replaced the synapsids that had dominated the Permian. Although Cynognathus was a characteristic top predator in earlier Triassic (Olenekian and Anisian) Gondwana, and both Kannemeyeriid dicynodonts and gomphodont cynodonts remained important herbivores during much of the period. By the end of the Triassic, synapsids played only bit parts. During the Carnian (early part of the Late Triassic), some advanced cynodont gave rise to the first mammals. At the same time the Ornithodira, which until then had been small and insignificant, evolved into pterosaurs and a variety of dinosaurs. The Crurotarsi were the other important archosaur clade, and during the Late Triassic these also reached the height of their diversity, with various groups including the Phytosaurs, Aetosaurs, several distinct lineages of Rauisuchia, and the first crocodylians (the Sphenosuchia). Meanwhile the stocky herbivorous rhynchosaurs and the small to medium-sized insectivorous or piscivorous Prolacertiformes were important basal archosauromorph groups throughout most of the Triassic.

Among other reptiles, the earliest turtles, like Proganochelys and Proterochersis, appeared during the Norian (middle of the Late Triassic). The Lepidosauromorpha—specifically the Sphenodontia—are first known in the fossil record a little earlier (during the Carnian). The Procolophonidae were an important group of small lizard-like herbivores.

Lagerstätten

The Monte San Giorgio lagerstätte, now in the Lake Lugano region of northern Italy and Switzerland, was in Triassic times a lagoon behind reefs with an anoxic bottom layer, so there were no scavengers and little turbulence to disturb fossilization, a situation that can be compared to the better-known Jurassic Solnhofen limestone lagerstätte. The remains of fish and various marine reptiles (including the common pachypleurosaur Neusticosaurus, and the bizarre long-necked archosauromorph Tanystropheus), along with some terrestrial forms like Ticinosuchus and Macrocnemus, have been recovered from this locality. All these fossils date from the Anisian/Ladinian transition (about 237 million years ago).

Late Triassic extinction event



The Triassic period ended with a mass extinction, which was particularly severe in the oceans; the conodonts disappeared, and all the marine reptiles except ichthyosaurs and plesiosaurs. Invertebrates like brachiopods, gastropods, and molluscs were severely affected. In the oceans, 22% of marine families and possibly about half of marine genera went missing, according to University of Chicago paleontologist Jack Sepkoski.

Though the end-Triassic extinction event was not equally devastating everywhere in terrestrial ecosystems, several important clades of Crurotarsi (large archosaurian reptiles previously grouped together as the thecodonts) disappeared, as did most of the large labyrinthodont amphibians, groups of small reptiles, and some synapsids (except for the proto-mammals). Some of the early, primitive dinosaurs also went extinct, but other more adaptive dinosaurs survived to evolve in the Jurassic. Surviving plants that went on to dominate the Mesozoic world included modern conifers and cycadeoids.

It is not certain what caused this Late Triassic extinction, which was accompanied by huge volcanic eruptions about 208-213 million years ago, the largest recorded volcanic event since the planet cooled and stabilized, as the supercontinent Pangaea began to break apart. Other possible causes for the extinction events include global cooling or even a bolide impact, for which an impact crater surrounding Manicouagan Reservoir in Quebec, Canada, has been singled out. At the Manicouagan impact crater, however, recent research has shown that the impact melt within the crater has an age of 214±1 Ma. The date of the Triassic-Jurassic boundary has also been more accurately fixed recently, at 202±1 Ma. Both dates are gaining accuracy by using more accurate forms of radiometric dating, in particular the decay of uranium to lead in zircons formed at the impact. So the evidence suggests the Manicouagan impact preceded the end of the Triassic by approximately 12±2 Ma. Therefore it could not be the immediate cause of the observed mass extinction. [4]

The number of Late Triassic extinctions is disputed. Some studies suggest that there are at least two periods of extinction towards the end of the Triassic, between 12 and 17 million years apart. But arguing against this is a recent study of North American faunas. In the Petrified Forest of northeast Arizona there is a unique sequence of latest Carnian-early Norian terrestrial sediments. An analysis in 2002 found no significant change in the paleoenvironment.[5] Phytosaurs, the most common fossils there, experienced a change-over only at the genus level, and the number of species remained the same. Some Aetosaurs, the next most common tetrapods, and early dinosaurs, passed through unchanged. However, both Phytosaurs and Aetosaurs were among the groups of archosaur reptiles completely wiped out by the end-Triassic extinction event.

It seems likely then that there was some sort of end-Carnian extinction, when several herbivorous archosauromorph groups died out, while the large herbivorous therapsids— the Kannemeyeriid dicynodonts and the Traversodont cynodonts— were much reduced in the northern half of Pangaea (Laurasia).

These extinctions within the Triassic and at its end allowed the dinosaurs to expand into many niches that had become unoccupied. Dinosaurs became increasingly dominant, abundant and diverse, and remained that way for the next 150 million years. The true "Age of Dinosaurs" is the Jurassic and Cretaceous, rather than the Triassic.

See also

Notes

1. ^ [1]
2. ^ Stanley, 452-3.
3. ^ Stanley, 452-3.
4. ^ Hodych & Dunning, 1992.
5. ^ [2]

References

  • Emiliani, Cesare, 1992, Planet Earth : Cosmology, Geology and the Evolution of Life and Environment
  • Ogg, Jim; June, 2004, Overview of Global Boundary Stratotype Sections and Points (GSSP's) http://www.stratigraphy.org/gssp.htm Accessed April 30, 2006
  • Stanley, Steven M. Earth System History. New York: W.H. Freeman and Company, 1999. ISBN 0-7167-2882-6
  • van Andel, Tjeerd, (1985) 1994, New Views on an Old Planet : A History of Global Change, Cambridge University Press

External links

Triassic period
Lower/Early Triassic Middle Triassic Upper/Late Triassic
Induan | OlenekianAnisian | LadinianCarnian | Norian
Rhaetian
A geologic period is a subdivision of geologic time that divides an era into smaller timeframes. The equivalent term used to demarcate rock layers and the fossil record is the system; thus the rocks of the Devonian System were laid down during the Devonian Period.
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Annum is a Latin noun meaning year. It is the accusative singular of the second declension masculine noun annus (nominative), anni (genitive) [1] .

As a unit of time, it is defined as exactly 365.
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The Mesozoic Era is one of three geologic eras of the Phanerozoic eon. The division of time into eras dates back to Giovanni Arduino, in the 18th century, although his original name for the era now called the 'Mesozoic' was 'Secondary' (making the modern era the 'Tertiary').
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Permian is a geologic period that extends from about 299.0 ± 0.8 Ma to 251.0 ± 0.4 Ma (million years before the present; ICS 2004). It is the last period of the Paleozoic Era.
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The Jurassic Period is a major unit of the geologic timescale that extends from about 199.6 ± 0.6 Ma (million years ago) to 145.4 ± 4.0 Ma, the end of the Triassic to the beginning of the Cretaceous.
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An extinction event (also known as: mass extinction; extinction-level event, ELE) is a sharp decrease in the number of species in a relatively short period of time.
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Adaptive radiation describes the rapid speciation of a single or a few species to fill many ecological niches. This is an evolutionary process driven by natural selection, successful and novel adaptation, and sometimes by mutation (heritable/genetic variation).
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ecosystem" by Sir Arthur Tansley (see ecology history). Vernadsky defined ecology as the science of the biosphere. It is an interdisciplinary concept for integrating astronomy, geophysics, meteorology, biogeography, evolution, geology, geochemistry, hydrology and, generally
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Zoantharia

Zoantharia (also known as Hexacorallia, as they have 6-fold symmetry) is a subclass of the class Anthozoa within the phylum Cnidaria.
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Magnoliophyta

Classes

Magnoliopsida - Dicots
Liliopsida - Monocots

The flowering plants or angiosperms are the most widespread group of land plants. The flowering plants and the gymnosperms comprise the two extant groups of seed plants.
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Pterosauria
Kaup, 1834

Suborders

Pterodactyloidea
Rhamphorhynchoidea *

Pterosaurs (/ˈtɛ.
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The Mesozoic Era is one of three geologic eras of the Phanerozoic eon. The division of time into eras dates back to Giovanni Arduino, in the 18th century, although his original name for the era now called the 'Mesozoic' was 'Secondary' (making the modern era the 'Tertiary').
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The Jurassic Period is a major unit of the geologic timescale that extends from about 199.6 ± 0.6 Ma (million years ago) to 145.4 ± 4.0 Ma, the end of the Triassic to the beginning of the Cretaceous.
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The Cretaceous Period is one of the major divisions of the geologic timescale, reaching from the end of the Jurassic Period (i.e. from 145.5 ± 4.0 million years ago (Ma)) to the beginning of the Paleocene epoch of the Tertiary Period (about 65.5 ± 0.3 Ma).
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Dr. Friedrich August von Alberti (September 4, 1795—September 12, 1878) was a German geologist who recognized the unity of the three characteristic strata that compose the Triassic period (Latin trias meaning triad), in a ground-breaking 1834 publication[1]
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The term red beds usually refers to strata of reddish-colored sedimentary rocks such as sandstone, siltstone or shale that were deposited in hot climates under oxidizing conditions. [1] The red color comes from iron oxide in their mineral structure.
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Chalk (IPA: /ˈtʃɔːk/) is a soft, white, porous sedimentary rock, a form of limestone composed of the mineral calcite.
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Shale is a fine-grained sedimentary rock whose original constituents were clays or muds. It is characterized by thin laminae[1] breaking with an irregular curving fracture, often splintery and usually parallel to the often-indistinguishable bedding plane.
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Anthem
"Das Lied der Deutschen" (third stanza)
also called "Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit"
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Europe is one of the seven traditional continents of the Earth. Physically and geologically, Europe is the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, west of Asia. Europe is bounded to the north by the Arctic Ocean, to the west by the Atlantic Ocean, to the south by the Mediterranean Sea,
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The Early Triassic (also known as Lower Triassic, Buntsandstein, or Scythian) is the first of three epochs of the Triassic period. It spans the time between 251 ± 0.4 Ma and 245 ± 1.5 Ma (million years ago).
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The Middle Triassic (also known as Muschelkalk) is the second of three epochs of the Triassic period. It spans the time between 245 ± 1.5 Ma and 228 ± 2 Ma (million years ago). The Middle Triassic is divided into the Anisian and Ladinian faunal stages.
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The Late Triassic (also known as Upper Triassic, or Keuper) is the third and final of three epochs of the Triassic period. It spans the time between 228 ± 2 Ma and 199.6 ± 0.6 Ma (million years ago).
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The geological time scale is used by geologists and other scientists to describe the timing and relationships between events that have occurred during the history of Earth.
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Faunal stages are subdivisions of rock layers used primarily by paleontologists who study fossils rather than by geologists who study rock formations. Typically, a faunal stage will consist of a series of rocks that contain similar fossils.
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The Late Triassic (also known as Upper Triassic, or Keuper) is the third and final of three epochs of the Triassic period. It spans the time between 228 ± 2 Ma and 199.6 ± 0.6 Ma (million years ago).
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Rhaetian Stage is the most recent stage of the Late Triassic. It occurred 203.6 ± 1.5 – 199.6 ± 0.6 million years ago.

Paleogeography

At this stage, Pangaea began to break-up, though Atlantic Ocean was formed yet.
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Annum is a Latin noun meaning year. It is the accusative singular of the second declension masculine noun annus (nominative), anni (genitive) [1] .

As a unit of time, it is defined as exactly 365.
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The Norian Stage was a portion of the Triassic geological period. It dates from 216.5 ± 2.0 to 203.6 ± 1.5 million years ago.

Fauna

  • Synapsids
  • Aetosaur
  • Dicynodonts
  • Phytosaur
  • Likhoelesaurus
  • Cryptoraptor

Ammonites


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For the Carnian Alps, see Carnic Alps.


The Carnian (less commonly, Karnian) is the first stage of the Upper Triassic, Mesozoic. Its boundaries are not characterized by major extinctions or biotic turnovers, but a climatic event (known as the
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