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 This period is part of the
Mesozoic era.

The Triassic is a Geologic period that extends from about 248 to 206 million years before the present (My or 'megayears'). 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. As the first period of the Mesozoic Era (the Age of Dinosaurs), the Triassic follows the Permian and is followed by the Jurassic. Both start and end of the Triassic are marked by major extinction events.

The characteristic sediments of the Triassic (red sandstones and evaporites) suggest a warm dry climate with no evidence of glaciation. As far as can be determined, there was no land or ice caps near either pole. Because of the limited shoreline of one continental mass, Triassic marine deposits are relatively rare despite their prominence in Western Europe. In North America, for example, marine deposits are limited to a few exposures in the West. Due to this, Triassic stratigraphy is mostly based on organisms living in lagoons and hypersaline environments, such as Estheria crustaceans.

During the Triassic both marine and continental life show an adaptative radiation, following the Permian extinction. Corals of the hexacorallia group make their first appearance. The first Angiosperms (flowering plants) may have evolved during the Triassic as did the first flying vertebrates (pterosaurs).

Table of contents
1 Triassic naming
2 Triassic dating and subdivisions
3 Triassic climate
4 Triassic paleogeography
5 Triassic fauna
6 Late Triassic extinction event
7 See also
8 External links

Triassic naming

The Triassic was named in 1834 by Friedrich Von Alberti for the three distinct layers of redbeds, capped by chalk, followed by black shales that are found throughout Germany and Northwest Europe, called the 'Trias'.

Triassic dating and subdivisions

The Triassic is usually separated into Lower, Middle, and Upper subdivisions. The Faunal stages from youngest to oldest are:

Triassic climate

The Triassic climate was generally hot and dry, forming typical redbed sandstones. It was a seasonal, continental climate, with strong monsoons. Polar regions were moist and temperate

Triassic paleogeography

During the Triassic, almost all the Earth's land mass remained concentrated into one Supercontinent&mdash Pangea.

Triassic fauna

In the Triassic fauna, three groups of organisms can be distinguished: holdovers from the Permian-Triassic extinction, some new groups which flourished briefly, and other new groups which went on to dominate the Mesozoic world.

In marine environments new, modern types of corals appeared in the early Triassic, forming small patches of reefs, nothing compared to the great reef systems of Devonian times or modern reefs. The shelled cephalopods called (Ammonites) recovered, diversifying from the single line that survived the Permian extinction. The fish fauna was remarkably uniform, reflecting the fact that very few families survived the Permian extinction. The first ichthyosaurs appeared in Triassic seas.

On land, the holdover plants included the lycophytes, cycads, glossopterids. Seed plants dominated the land. In the Northern hemisphere, conifers flourished. Glossopteris (a seed fern) was the dominant southern hemisphere tree during the Early Triassic period.

Diapsid reptiles replaced the synapsids that had dominated the Permian. After the Triassic, diapsid reptiles would radiate into pterosaurs and a variety of dinosaur forms. By the end of the Triassic, synapsids played only bit parts. At the start of the Jurassic, while living on the fringes and grubbing out an existence, they evolved into the mammals. Also dicynodonts like Lystrosaurus.

The earliest-known turtle, Proganochelys, appeared during the late Triassic.

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.

Late Triassic extinction event

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

The end-Triassic extinction event was not equally devastating everywhere in terrestrial ecosystems. In the Petrified Forest of northeast Arizona there is a unique sequence of latest Carnian-early Norian terrestrial sediments. An analysis in 2002 ([1]) found no significant change in the paleoenvironment. 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 the end-Triassic event unchanged.

Elsewhere on land, virtually all labyrinthodont amphibians and most synapsids, which had dominated the Permian and early Triassic, were eliminated (except for the proto-mammals). Most 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. Whole families of mammal-like reptiles, grouped together as thethecodonts, disappeared.

No one is 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, as the supercontinent Pangaea began to break apart. Other possibilities include global cooling or even a bolide impact, for which an impact crater surrounding Manicouagan Reservoir, 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 2141 Ma. The date of the Triassic-Jurassic boundary has also been more accurately fixed at 2021 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. dating. So the evidence suggests the Manicougan impact preceded the end of the Triassic by approximately 122 Ma. Therefore it could not be the immediate cause of the observed mass extinction. (J.P.Hodych, G.R.Dunning, 1992).

Even the timing of the late Triassic extinctions is moot. 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.

This extinction allowed the dinosaurs to expand into many niches that were now unoccupied. Dinosaurs would become increasingly dominant, abundant and diverse, and remained that way for the next 150 million years.

See also

Geologic timescale

External links