Dinosaurs of the Jurassic Period
This paper examines the Dinosaurs of the Jurassic Period. The paper considers the holistic view of the Jurassic period in addition to the Dinosaurs that roamed the Earth during this period. Finally, historical consideration evidence leading to the demise or disappearance of the dinosaurs. Analysis is based upon research conducted from ten academic reference sites. The paper provides an understanding of the different species that lived during the Jurassic period and the environmental and climatic conditions that supported them. Also discussed is a significant amount of information regarding palaeontologists’ discoveries of great dinosaur faunas, such as the Jurassic Morrison Formation. Why did the dinosaurs flourish during the Jurassic period and what evidence is there to support it? How did the environment and climatic conditions impact the evolution of the species? What ultimately resulted in the extinction of the species?
The Jurassic Period, also known as the Age of Reptiles, and is marked from the end of the Triassic period to the beginning of the Cretaceous period; the time frames within this period are broken down into Early, Middle and Late Jurassic. There are three main extinction events in the life of the dinosaurs, none of which took place during the Jurassic period; however, the beginning of the Jurassic period is identified by the Triassic-Jurassic extinction. The term Jurassic was linked to the Jura Mountains of Switzerland, a small range north of the Swiss Alps dividing the Rhone and Rhine rivers (Palmer, 2002). In the Jurassic period, there were many vertebrates living in the oceans, including, fish and marine reptiles; these included that of coiled ammonites, ichthyosaurs, marine crocodiles, and long-necked plesiosaurs. Herbivores roamed the earth, feeding on the lush growths of palm-like cycads and ferns, while being preyed upon by smaller but vicious carnivores; and vertebrates such as the pterosaurs took to the sky (Palmer, 2002). During this time, the dinosaurs dominated the earth and were more numerous and more extraordinary than those in the Triassic period, in fact, the Jurassic period housed the largest land animals of all time. Palaeontologists have discovered many amazing dinosaur faunas revealing information about the dinosaurs as well as the geographical and climatical terrain of the Jurassic period, conceding the Jurassic Period to be one of the most flourishing times in the Mesozoic era. Climatic features are a very important consideration in Jurassic times, primarily temperature and precipitation; for many years it has been said that the climates of the Jurassic were similar to those of the Cretaceous, yet were considerably more equable than the climates we know today (Hallam, 1993). Palaeontologists had formed a consensus that the climate was hot and humid, with steady precipitation which presented ideal climatic conditions for the explosive spread of flora. However, this belief has recently been challenged; while the climates of the Jurassic haven’t been studied like those of the Cretaceous, enough data has been gathered to form reasonably confident hypotheses regarding the overall patterns during that time. One example in particular is shown in the large supercontinent of Pangaea, which is believed to have experienced a significantly seasonal range of temperatures (Hallam, 1993). Early in the Jurassic period, this large continent continued and accelerated to breakup, creating huge volcanoes with rivers of lava and clouds of poisonous gases; it is possible that this contributed to the significantly higher atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide which is assumed of Jurassic times (Hallam, 1993). Pangaea divided into many smaller continents; the northern half, Laurasia, divided into North America and Eurasia, and by the Middle Jurassic the southern half, Gondwana began to break up; the eastern part, to include...
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