Triassic Period

The Triassic was the first period of the Mesozoic era and was a period of great change; it suffered the greatest extinction that the world has ever known.

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Can you imagine what it would be like to live in a world that looked completely different to what it does today and where 90% of all plant and animal life had been wiped out?

All the continents were joined together as one massive continent known as Pangaea, which in its centre held a large and barren desert. The trees and plants were totally different to what we see today, for example there were no flowering plants, bushes or even grass.

The world took a long time to recover from the extinction and it wasn’t until approximately 230 million years ago that the first dinosaur was seen on earth. The dinosaurs didn’t have things their own way though as they were forced to compete amongst non-dinosaur species, like dicynodonts and archosaurs who were the rulers of the animal kingdom at the time.

But fate was on the side of the dinosaurs as another extinction took place towards the end of the Triassic around 220 million years ago. Many believe this extinction was as the result of a major climatic change and this signaled the end for the dicynodonts and archosaurs. With their competition becoming extinct it left the dinosaurs as rulers of the earth.

New species now began to develop; pterosaurs or flying reptiles began to appear in the skies whilst in the seas we see the first crocodiles and turtles appearing.

Appearing late in the Triassic period, Coelophysis was one of the earliest dinosaurs; and one of the smallest at only 3m long.

The early dinosaurs were fairly small compared to the dinosaurs of the later Jurassic period for example Eoraptor was about 1metre long and Coelophysis was only 3metres long, but this didn’t stop it being an extremely vicious carnivore.

The biggest and perhaps most ferocious predator at the time was Postosuchus whilst another contender for the most feared would be Cynodont - a reptile who had no problem with eating it’s own young to survive.

Towards the end of the Triassic the Prosauropods began to develop, capable of walking on all fours or standing on just their hind legs. The plant eating Prosauropod Plateosaurus grew to about 9m in length and used its beak and clawed hands to grasp branches.

Pterasuar - a Triassic flying reptile

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