Dive into Mesozoic Era: When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth

Dive into Mesozoic Era: When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth

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We live in a 4.5 billion years old planet. As humans, we still learning about our home world’s biological past events and evolution history. Throughout the years science had found so many evidence that led us to understand what really happened in Earth’s history. If you are interested in who or what animals lived on our Earth before the dawn of humans, there are so many wonderful evolution events and periods to explore.

Specially our planet had gone through various different geological evolution journeys in its’ early ages. These evolutions caused one of the most important and recognizable life forms to come to life on planet Earth.

So today we’re going to explore one of the major eras of planet Earth’s history, and discover what happened in that era, how life found its’ way onto land, air and even to the sky.

As mentioned before throughout its’ evolution history, our planet had passed so many different eras of biological and geological periods. Within those periods many life forms have come to life and in time they evolved into the most recognizable species that gave special identity for each period of our Earth.

What was the Mesozoic Era & What are the Major events happened in that era?

A billion years ago Earth isn’t a place like we see it in today. Before the period that we are going to discuss today, there was a massive extinction event that caused uncountable life forms to be wiped out from the surface of the Earth.

After this apocalyptic event once again living beings and plants began to appear in time. (Also, at this time our planet’s land is so much different than today and it began to change within this period.) These all prehistoric biological and geological events happened in one era, and it’s called the Mesozoic Era. Also, this is the era when Dinosaurs ruled the earth.

You may probably heard about this era before. But what exactly is the Mesozoic era? And why is it so important? Let’s find out.

The Mesozoic era is recognizable for some of the most major evolutionary events that happened within its’ time, both biological and geological. Specially rising of the most famous Dinosaurs and ruling them entire planet, earth’s geological appearance began to evolve into a more expanded way causing to appear different ecological environments in each section of the planet were the most important things that ever happened in the Mesozoic era. But there is more.

Age Before the Mesozoic Era

Let’s start from the beginning. The Mesozoic era began 252 billion years ago, after the Permian-Triassic massive extinction or most commonly known as The Great Dying. This extinction event marked the end of the Permian Era and the beginning of the Mesozoic era. Also, it should be mentioned that The Great Dying was the largest extinction event that ever happened in Earth’s history.

Long before the age of the dinosaurs our planet was filled with animals, insects and plants. These animals and plants were belong to Paleozoic era, the age before the Mesozoic era.

Long before the age of the dinosaurs our planet was filled with animals, insects and plants.

But many of these animals and plants were lost due to The Permian-Triassic extinction. Because of this massive extinction event, Earth lost 96% of all marine species and around 70% of terrestrial species. (including plants and insects of that period)

Dawn Of the Mesozoic

After this era, comes the dawn of The Mesozoic era. This prehistoric age separates into three major periods. The major periods of Mesozoic era are respectively Triassic period, Jurassic period and lastly Cretaceous period. All the major events of Mesozoic era happened within these three periods. So, let’s dive into each of these periods and explore what was the earth like within these prehistoric ages.

The Triassic Period

The Triassic was the first period of Mesozoic era. It began 252 million years ago with the end of the Permian period and concluded 201 million years ago. Earth’s climate during the Triassic period was hot and dry.

Also, it is within this period Earth’s supercontinent Pangea started to break apart. For those who don’t know what the Pangea is, million years ago the continent we know in modern day as North America was merged with Africa, South America and Europe. They all existed as one single supercontinent called Pangea.

Pangea is important because it once connected all of the continents of the world,allowing animals to migrate between land masses that would be impossible today. Pangea was fully formed in the early periods. So, the great supercontinent Pangea started to break apart in Triassic.

While Pangea just started to break apart after the extinction event, Earth once again prepared for the arrival of new life forms. Although most of animals and plants were gone by this time, some survivors of the Great Dying began to populate on the planet.

Specially mammal-like reptiles and Archosaurs were able to survive from the Great Dying and make it to the Triassic Period.

So, the story of life in the Mesozoic Era truly begins from here.

As said above Archosaurs began to take advantage of newly formed Triassic environment. Archosaurs’ origin going back to Paleozoic period. But they evolve further in the Triassic period. These creatures diversified in time and caused the most famous prehistoric animals to appear in Mesozoic era.

By the middle of the Triassic (243 million years ago) descendants of the Archosaurs begin to appear; the first Dinosaurs of Mesozoic Era. This is when the dinosaurs like Nyasasaurus, Herrerasaurs and Eoraptor appear in the Triassic period.

By the middle of the Triassic first Dinosaurs began to appear
By the middle of the Triassic first Dinosaurs began to appear © Nobu Tamura

With Dinosaurs began to more interact with eco system of the Triassic period, they became more larger and also specialized into groups. These Triassic dinosaurs split into two most commonly known groups. Sauropod dinosaurs and Theropods dinosaurs. Sauropods are long necked, herbivorous and long-tailed, while Theropods are bipedal and mostly carnivorous dinosaurs.

In time Dinosaurs began to more interact with ecosystem of the Triassic period
In time Dinosaurs began to more interact with ecosystem of the Triassic period

While Triassic lands began to populated with dinosaurs, also Pterosaurs (flying reptiles) begin to appear for the first time in the late Triassic. Pterosaurs are also the descendants of Archosaurs. Marine reptiles like Ichthyosaurs, Plesiosaurs also start to dominate the Triassic water environments.

Marine reptiles like Plesiosaurs start to dominate the Triassic water environments
Marine reptiles like Plesiosaurs start to dominate the Triassic water environments © Dmitry Bogdanov

Also, mammals appeared during the Triassic period but remained as minimum interacting life forms due to their competitors (Dinosaurs). So, this is how the age of the dinosaurs began with the Triassic period.

The Jurassic Period

After the Triassic period, the second period of the Mesozoic era began. The most famous Jurassic period. This is the era when the age of reptiles reached its’ peak. The climate of Jurassic age was warm and tropical one. Specially Jurassic period was abundant with Cycads and Conifer trees. Scientists believe that cycads were probably an important food source for herbivorous dinosaurs and other animals of that era.

And the breaking of Pangea that began in Triassic period continued within the Jurassic period. Because of that breaking sea levels began to rise, causing create shallow seas in North America and Europe.

In the late Jurassic most famous types of dinosaurs began to appear. Most popular sauropods like Brachiosaurs, Diplodocus, Brontosaurs appeared in the late Jurassic. Also most well-known legendary dinosaurs like Stegosaurs, carnivorous Allosaurs, Dilophosaurus dominated the land during this era.

Most popular sauropod dinosaurs like Brachiosaurs, Diplodocus appeared in Jurassic period.
Most popular sauropod dinosaurs like Brachiosaurs, Diplodocus appeared in Jurassic period. © Gerhard Boeggemann

Specially in the late Jurassic, planet Earth’s first birds began to appear. The most popular and well-known Archaeopteryx first appeared in the late Jurassic. (But most recent researches suggest that Archaeopteryx was a dinosaur, not the first bird.)

Archaeopteryx first appeared in the late Jurassic
Archaeopteryx first appeared in the late Jurassic © DataBase Center for Life Science

The Cretaceous Period

After taking so many ecological evolutions and biological diversifying of the animals (Dinosaurs, mammals) with previous two periods, the last age of the Mesozoic era began; the Cretaceous period. Cretaceous was the longest era of the three Mesozoic periods. It began 145 million years ago and ended 66 million years ago. This third and last Cretaceous period lasted for 79 million years.

With appearing in the previous era, conifers and cycads were the dominant plants of nature. But in the Cretaceous period nature’s first flowering plants began to appear. Specially Archaefructus; one of the earliest known flowering plants that appeared in early Cretaceous. And due to appearing of flowering plants, many varieties of modern insects begin to appear and diversify in time like Ants, Bees, Butterflies and aphids etc.

Meanwhile dinosaurs and marine reptiles are also expanded their rule over the lands of Cretaceous. New types of dinosaurs begin to appear. Every time popular dinosaurs like Tyrannosaurus Rex, Giganotosaurs, Spinosaurs and Velociraptors appeared in the Cretaceous period.

But keep in mind that some of them lived during different eras of the Cretaceous. So, some of those dinosaurs may never met face to face like we see in the modern movies.

Most popular dinosaurs like Tyrannosaurus Rex, Giganotosaurs, Spinosaurs appeared in Cretaceous
Most popular dinosaurs like Tyrannosaurus Rex, Giganotosaurs, Spinosaurs appeared in Cretaceous

Also, Sauropods like Titanosaurs, Argentinosaurs were one of the most massive dinosaurs that ever walked in the prehistoric earth. In the late Cretaceous Pterosaurs got way bigger and more expanded. (Pterosaurs who lived in the Cretaceous like Quetzalcoatlus, Pteranodon were the largest animals that ever flew in the Earth.)

Meanwhile birds are also began to expand and diversify in their numbers. (Some theories suggest that these expanding of birds may be the reason that Pterosaurs decreased in time.) Either way many important evolutions of animal history happened in this period of the Mesozoic.

And special geological changes began to take part during the Cretaceous period. Because of the continents of this era still continued to drift apart, dinosaur groups began to isolated unlike ever before. Allowing each dinosaur to be seen in only specific places/continents of the Earth at that time.

Some continents like India separated from other continents and became island continent. Also, many other continents covered with continental oceans.

So, this is how the three major periods of Mesozoic era evolve in time with biological and geological ways that shaped our planet into what we see it in today.

So far we discussed the main events, biological and geological evolutions that happened in the Mesozoic era.

Here is a quick summary of major events that happened in the Mesozoic era.

Mesozoic Era Major Events  

  • Mesozoic era began with the ending of Permian period. (Last age of Paleozoic era)
  • Supercontinent Pangea began to break apart in Triassic period.
  • After the Great Dying extinction event mammal-like reptiles and Archosaurs survived and make it to the first period of Mesozoic era – The Triassic period
  • Archosaurs was the ancestor of Dinosaur, Birds and Pterosaurs
  • Earth’s climate during the Mesozoic era was warmer than today
  • Both Mammals & Birds first appeared in the Mesozoic era
  • Frist appearance of Archaeopteryx
  • Appearing of Earth’s first flowering plants

So, this is the tale of Mesozoic era. Or the age that dinosaurs ruled our Earth. But like every era in our planet’s history, Mesozoic era and the time of the dinosaurs came to an end. The Mesozoic era ended with another extinction event.

End Of the Mesozoic Era & Extinction Of Dinosaurs

According to geological evidences, an asteroid impact the Earth at near the end of Cretaceous period. Causing large-scale climate change across the planet. Also, volcanic eruptions caused more damage to the ecosystem. These events caused the air and oceans of that period to become uninhabitable for many living things.

Because of the asteroid impact, scientists believe that the atmosphere mixed with ash and created a winter. This disaster threatened all life forms on Earth, Specially for dinosaurs.

The plant eating dinosaurs and other herbivorous were unable to find enough food for their survive. And other carnivorous dinosaurs were also affected by this. So, lack of food resources and climate changing caused the dinosaurs to go extinct from our planet. This massive extinction event killed 75% of animals and other species. So, the dinosaurs were completely wiped out from Earth with the conclusion of the Mesozoic era.

An asteroid impact and volcanic eruptions caused dinosaurs went to extinct
An asteroid impact and volcanic eruptions caused dinosaurs went to extinct

But some animals of the Mesozoic era were able to survive and evolve into modern times. The descendants of Archosaurs like birds and crocodiles still live among us in modern day, representing their Mesozoic ancestor.

Descendants of Archosaurs still live among us even in the modern day
Descendants of Archosaurs still live among us even in the modern day

So, here ends the tale of the Mesozoic era. Hope you enjoyed and learn some valuable facts about the Mesozoic era from this article. Thank you for reading. Stay in touch for more prehistorical articles and other things about our planet.