Paleontology

What were the landscape and weather like during the Triassic period?
Answered by Science Channel
  • Science Channel

    Science Channel

  1. The Triassic period occurred about 200 to 250 million years ago. At first, it was characterized by cool, dry weather. However, Earth at this time had a major landmass called Pangaea, and landmasses are more sensitive to changes in temperature than are oceans. A large landmass will absorb the sun's heat during summer and cool off significantly during the winter. During the Triassic period, this is what happened. The changes in temperature resulted in air pressure changes, which in turn caused extreme weather patterns. Over time, seasons evolved into cool, dry winters and warm, rainy summers, resembling the monsoon patterns that characterize modern-day Southeast Asia.

    The weather wasn't the only thing that went through some changes during the Triassic. The landscape of the Earth itself was on the move, albeit slowly, creating a new prehistoric postal code or two. Back at the beginning of the Triassic period, Pangaea stretched almost from pole to pole. There was also a smaller landmass, made up of modern-day China and Southeast Asia. The Tethys Sea surrounded Pangaea, and joined a very large ocean. During this period, Pangaea actually moved very slowly to the north and clockwise. By the time the middle Triassic period had begun, the giant continent was facing east and was centered on the equator. Because most of the Earth's land was joined together in a single continent, animals moved freely from one part of the world to another.

    The flora and fauna of the Triassic really needed that room to roam. They were just as busy as the weather and the land. The Triassic followed the great Permian extinction event, the most devastating such event in Earth's history, in which nearly all marine species were lost, as were some 70 percent of land plants and animals [source: PBS]. After the "Great Dying," as the event has come to be called, it was up to whatever wasn't killed to try once again to flourish and repopulate the planet.




    More answers from Science Channel »



Still Curious?
  • How much information is the fossil record missing?


    Answered by Discovery Channel

  • How are replicas of fossils made?


    Answered by Discovery Channel

  • What was the earliest known bird?


    Answered by Discovery Channel