In what time periods did dinosaurs live?

The dinosaur age

The age ruled by the dinosaurs was the so-called Mesozoic Era - the Mesozoic Era - which began 250 million years ago and ended 65 million years ago.

About 225 million years ago - in the middle of the Triassic, the first period of the Mesozoic - the first dinosaurs appeared. At that time, all of today's continents formed a large contiguous land area - the original continent of Pangea (= "entire earth"). This allowed the dinosaurs to spread across the entire continent, which also explains why fossil remains of the first dinosaur species, such as the prosauropods, are found on all five continents today.

Due to the hot and dry climate, this huge country mainly consisted of desert-like areas. Lush vegetation - especially horsetail, ferns, ginkgo and conifers - was only able to expand in river valleys and on the coast.

The animal world at the time of the Triassic consisted of insects, frogs and of course dinosaurs. In addition to herbivorous primitive and beak-headed dinosaurs, turtles, pterosaurs and various reptiles populated Pangea. The first dinosaurs were medium-sized carnivores that moved on two legs, called theropods. In the course of time, the first herbivores (prosauropods) developed, which got bigger and bigger and therefore had to walk on all fours more and more often. Towards the end of the Triassic Period, the first small herbivores, the ornithopods, appeared on two legs.

In the actual heyday of the dinosaurs - the Jura (205 to 135 million years ago) - the image of the earth changed dramatically. The original continent of Pangea broke apart until it no longer existed at the end of the Jura. This created completely new continents, between which warm flat seas spread. The later continents of North America, Greenland, Europe and Asia still formed a contiguous area of ​​land called Laurasia. And from Gondwana - the second huge continent - the Antarctic, Africa, India, Australia and New Zealand emerged over the course of millions of years.

As the land masses broke up, the desert-like stretches of land disappeared more and more. The climate became more humid and warmer, and a species-rich, tropical flora conquered large parts of the land masses. These conditions were ideal for the further development and spread of the dinosaurs. So it happened that the Jura brought forth numerous new species and now on land it was no longer the dinosaurs that dominated, but the dinosaurs. Among them was the herbivorous giant dinosaur Brachiosaurus, which with a length of 23 meters, a height of 12.5 meters and a weight of 80 tons (= twelve times that of an African bull elephant) was one of the largest land animals of all time. The most terrible and largest predatory dinosaur at that time was the Allosaurus, which with its powerful teeth could even bring down the giant herbivores without any problems. Fish and fin lizards cavorted in the seas and the airspace was dominated by pterosaurs, including the ancient bird Archeopteryx. The few early mammals, however, remained inconspicuous and small.

In the Cretaceous Period - 135 to 65 million years ago - the continents drifted further apart. The seas became wider and deeper, the climate cooled a little and the flora changed. This is how the first flowering plants developed, such as broad-leaved deciduous trees, i.e. magnolias and plane trees.

A lot also happened in the development of the dinosaurs: The giant dinosaurs became increasingly rare, the spiked dinosaurs died out completely, but the tank and horn dinosaurs developed instead. Towards the end of the Cretaceous Period, giant pterosaurs appeared - the Pteranodon with a wingspan of up to seven meters and the Quetzalcoatlus with a wingspan of probably up to twelve meters. The “star” among the dinosaurs - the Tyrannosaurus rex (“T-Rex”) - lived in the Cretaceous Period. It was the largest carnivore living in the country of all time (length: 15 meters, height: 6 meters, weight: 7 tons).

The end of the dinosaur era on the border from the Cretaceous to the Tertiary came abruptly and was caused by dramatic events that affected the world ...

Status: 08/15/2000

August 15, 2000