Presentation on theme: "Mesozoic life wrap-up Plants, dinosaurs, birds, and mammals."— Presentation transcript:
Mesozoic life wrap-up Plants, dinosaurs, birds, and mammals
Seedless plants (vascular and nonvascular) –Many divisions –Important in Paleozoic: Ferns, Sphenopsids, Lycophytes Gymnosperms: ‘naked seeds’ Angiosperms: ‘seeds in a vessel’ Plants are: Two Sphenophytes Paleozoic: Lycopods grew to giant forests!
Nonvascular plants (eg Cooksonia + friends) Vascular seedless –Example: Lycophytes, Sphenopsids Giant Lycopod trees in Paleozoic; now small Horsetails are modern remnant of major Paleo. Sphenops Evolution of seeds! Spermatophytes –Gymnosperms: late Paleozoic –Angiosperms: mid-Cretaceous (late Mesozoic) Geologic sequence
Insect-polinated instead of wind polinated –Insect relationship allows for new means of plant diversification: evolve to match a specific bug Animal-dispersed via fruits –Encase seeds bribing animals to disperse Animal and insect relationships allow more rapid dispersion + more remote existence Seed comes with its own early nutrition inside Angiosperms are special because:
Reptile diversification began –during the Mississippian Period –with the evolution of the first animals to lay amniotic eggs From this basic stock of so-called stem reptiles –all other reptiles, as well as birds and mammals, evolved The Diversification of Reptiles
Relationships among fossil and living reptiles and birds Reptiles and Birds
First Dinosaurs Evolved from archosaurs (reptiles) Late Triassic Small, only 3 ft long Major characteristics –Can walk fully upright - bipedal –Special hip and ankle structure
Reptiles known as archosaurs archo meaning "ruling" and sauros meaning "lizard” –include crocodiles, pterosaurs (flying reptiles), dinosaurs, and the ancestors of birds Including such diverse animals –in a single group implies –that they share a common ancestor –and indeed they possess several characteristics that unite them Archosaurs and the Origin of Dinosaurs
All dinosaurs possess –a number of shared characteristics, –yet differ enough for us to recognize two distinct orders the Saurischia and Ornithischia A distinctive pelvic structure characterizes each order –3 bones in pelvis: illium, ischium, and pubis –Saurischian: pubis points down –Orinischian: pubis points back Dinosaurs Orders
Saurischian dinosaurs –have a lizardlike pelvis –and are thus called lizard-hipped dinosaurs Ornithischians –have a birdlike pelvis –and are called bird-hipped dinosaurs Convergent evolution –‘birdlike’ pelvic structure reinvented in Saurischian descendents (avian dinosaurs = birds) Distinctive Pelvic Structure
Hip Structure MSN encarta
The saurischians, –include two distinct groups –known as theropods and sauropods All theropods –were carnivorous bipeds –ranging in size from tiny Compsognathus –to giants such as Tyrannosaurus and similar species that might have weighed as much as 7 or 8 metric tons Saurischian Dinosaurs
Cladogram showing dinosaur relationships –showing Pelvises of ornithischians and saurischians –Among the several subgroups of dinosaurs Dinosaur Cladogram theropods were carnivores all others were herbivores
Compsognathus weighed only 2 or 3 kg –Bones found within its ribcage indicate it ate lizards Small Theropod Dinosaur
The skull of Tyrannosaurus, –another theropod, –measured more than 1 m long Tyrannosaurus
Included among the sauropods –are the truly giant, quadrupedal herbivorous dinosaurs –Apatosaurus, Diplodocus, and Brachiosaurus, the largest known land-animals of any kind Brachiosaurus, a giant even by sauropod standards, –weighed as much as 75 metric tons, –partial remains indicate that even larger sauropods may have existed Sauropods
Ornithischians “Bird-hipped” dinos Herbivorous dinos (eg. stegosaurus) Did not lead to birds! (Birds evolved from carnivorous dinos with saurischian hip)
Were dinosaurs endotherms warm-blooded : generates internal heat to maintain body temperature –like today's mammals and birds, or were they ectotherms cold-blooded: relies on the environment + behavior to regulate body temperature –as are all of today's reptiles? At some point between dinosaur and bird, became endothermic. When? Warm-Blooded Dinosaurs?
Brain size correlates with endothermy in modern mammals and reptiles –Some dinosaurs had more brain per body than modern reptiles –Problems: how to measure brain size? Value of correlative data? Evidence for Endothermy: Large Brain
More compelling evidence for theropod endothermy –comes from their probable relationship to birds –recent discoveries in China of dinosaurs with feathers or a feather-like covering Today, only endotherms have hair, fur, or feathers for insulation Evidence for Endothermy: Insulation
Evidence for Endothermy: Dinosaurs present at high latitudes –Problem: Cretaceous Interior Seaway Predator/prey relationship –Endotherms eat more therefore an ecosystem can support fewer of them –Fossil record suggests many herbivores, fewer carnivores
Evidence for Endothermy: dominance over mammals Endotherms can move fast for long periods of time Ectotherms can only do short bursts Other possible explanations for dinosaurian head start over mammals?
Hit mammals hard Dinosaurs not as affected Possible cause: –Pangaea fragmentation lead to volcanic CO 2 release –CO 2 greenhouse? –Evidence: plant fossils show fewer stomates: pores to admit CO 2
Mammals Mammals have hair, make milk, have 3 ear bones, and are warm-blooded Marsupials and placentals give birth to live babies Monotremes lay leathery eggs Some have very short pregnancies and carry immature babies in pouches (all marsupials and some monotremes) Tree of life Web Project
Mammals Evolved from cynodonts in Late Triassic Strong fossil record of transition: Bone structure (jaw and ear) Many types of teeth Only 2 sets of teeth Teeth meet for grinding Skin instead of scales Remained mouse-sized for 150 m.y.
Birds evolved in the Jurassic Archaeopteryx Feathers and wings No bill Reptilian backbone
Archaeopteryx’s Feathers Not clear if Archaeopteryx could fly or only glide Did feathers evolve: –For flight –For insulation –For display Maybe another example of evolutionary opportunism –Feathered, non-flying theropods found in China
Greatest mass extinction took place at the end of the Paleozoic Era K/T extinction has attracted more attention because it affected dinosaurs K/T Boundary Extinction Review
K/T Boundary Extinction N America suffered most Also going on: seas cooling, receding globally Many animals in decline before K/T boundary Mammals, birds, turtles, crocodiles, lizards, snakes and amphibians survived
What did Earth look like 65 Ma?
One proposal has become popular since 1980 –based on a discovery in Italy –2.5-cm-thick clay layer at the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary with a remarkably high concentration of iridium Worldwide iridium layer now known What caused the K/T extinction?
K/T boundary site in Italy 2.5-cm-thick clay layer shows high concentration of iridium Cretaceous-Tertiary Boundary
Closeup view of the boundary clay in the Raton Basin, New Mexico Boundary Clay
Deep sea core Recovered by Joides Resolution in 1997 Boundary Clay
Significance of the iridium anomaly –iridium is rare in crustal rocks –found in much higher concentrations in some meteorites –May also result from expoure to supernovas (but supernovas also create isotopic anomalies not present at K/T) Accordingly, some investigators propose –meteorite impact explains the anomaly –meteorite perhaps 10 km in diameter –impact set in motion a chain of events leading to extinctions Iridium Anomaly
North American Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary sites also contain –soot –shock-metamorphosed quartz grains Boundary Sites
Centered on Chicxulub on the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico Discovered in 1950’s, interpreted to be volcanic Meteorite Impact Crater
Centered on the town of Chicxulub, Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico The 180-km diameter structure lies beneath layers of sedimentary rock and appears to be the right age Impact Site
Shocked quartz tektites, small pieces of rock that were melted during the proposed impact and hurled into the atmosphere Nearby in the Carribean: tsunami deposits Evidence at Chicxulub
The moment of impact 65 million years ago near what is now the Yucatan Peninsula and the Chicxulub crater, a few days later. Note the inner ring. What happened?
According to the impact hypothesis –60 times the mass of the meteorite was blasted from the crust high into the atmosphere –heat generated at impact started raging forest fires that added more particulate matter to the atmosphere Sunlight was blocked for several months –caused a temporary cessation of photosynthesis –food chains collapsed and extinctions followed Impact Consequences
With sunlight greatly diminished, Earth's surface temperatures were drastically reduced, adding to the biologic stress Another proposed consequence of an impact is that sulfuric acid (H 2 SO 4 ) and nitric acid (HNO 3 ) resulted from vaporized rock and atmospheric gases Both would have contributed to strongly acid rain that might have had devastating effects on vegetation and marine organisms Acid Rain
Uncertainties Correlation between extinction and meteorite impact is pretty clear But correlations don’t prove causality! Remaining questions: –Did terrestrial and marine extinctions occur simultaneously? –If small animals survived, why didn’t small dinosaurs survive? –Was there a relationship between the extinctions and ongoing volcanic activity?