Okay so first of all, the Triassic is SUPER DUPER OLD. In the grand scheme of the Earth, sure, it happened relatively recently, but working on the scale of the entire geologic time span of the Earth’s existence is not exactly fair:
I mean, animals that we can recognize today didn’t show up until that line in the Phanerozoic (Hadean is the oldest stuff), so like, it’s smack dab in the middle of THAT
Look, basically, here’s what happened:
- The earth Formed. Life Appeared. Chaos reigned (4,600 million years ago until 4,000 million years ago)
- Life began to become more complex. Some life began to stick its blueprints inside of pockets so they’d be safer. They then swallowed other life forms that were better at getting energy, but kept them around like a buddy inside of them. Some of these guys could make a shitton of oxygen. This made the earth cool and a lot of shit die out super duper quickly. Extinction rate unknown. (4,000 million years ago until 2,500 million years ago)
- Climate change and fluctuating oceans allow life to start to group up together into SuperLife aka Multicellular Things. These multicellular things got more and more complicated. Some became animals and started moving around a lot. Some plants went on land. Some things were super weird looking and mysterious. LOTS of experimentation by life. Things start to change and a lot of these early experiments go extinct. Extinction rate unknown. (2,500 million years ago until 541 million years ago)
- Animals can suddenly burrow underground and go absolutely apeshit and diversify faster than you can say “wait a second whAT THE FUCK IS THAT”. Ice Age causes Death, 85% of species die out. (541-444 million years ago)
- Fish suddenly have a chance to be weird too and some of them decide, what the heck, let’s crawl onto land. Why not, right? Some other animals decide to join them. Plants make everything super cold, 75% of all species die out. (444-359 mya)
- Land-vertebrates start to diversify. They try out a lot of new things, but there aren’t a lot of them yet. So there’s still a lot of experimentation in body plans. Mammal-relatives are actually some of the most diverse ones. Reptiles are fairly rare. A GIANT MASS EXTINCTION CAUSED BY A GIANT LAVA FIELD EXPLODING KILLS ~95% OF LIFE ON EARTH. (359-252 mya)
- NEW animals get to try to diversify and do lots of crazy shit in the wake of SO MANY JOBS IN THE ENVIRONMENT GETTING CLEARED OUT. Reptiles diversify so fast you don’t know what the heck is happening. Other animals also take this opportunity to do new and weird shit. VOLCANOS EXPLODE, KILL ~80% OF LIFE (252-201 mya)
- Dinosaurs finally get to do fun things now that other reptiles are no longer being weird. Modern life starts to show up. (201 mya-today).
- Land Animals had only just started to diversify and try out new funky things with their bodies in order to cope with the challenges of terrestrial life
- Then a giant mass extinction killed everything. Mass exinctions are bad news for a lot of shit that’s specialized for the environment that’s been destroyed, BUT it allows things that make it through to have a chance to try out new shit to fill all those empty jobs in the environment
- So, generalist reptiles, who hadn’t had a chance to do jack diddly squat before, now suddenly had the whole planet to play with. And the other animals around them, from mammal-cousins to amphibians to fish to insects to other invertebrates, also got to try out some new stuff in this new world
- AND THEN ANOTHER MASS EXTINCTION HAPPENED RIGHT AFTER THAT RESET THE CLOCK AGAIN
This means that the TRIASSIC has some of THE MOST UNIQUE ANIMALS TO HAVE EVER EVOLVED IN EARTH’S HISTORY. Experiments were tried, rapidly, and MANY were lost RIGHT AWAY. It’s not like the life that evolved after that, which was honestly similar to what we see today - or those that evolved after the end-Cretaceous extinction, which was even more like today. These were weirdos that appeared and were wiped out before they could continue on to today
And, because this was a rapid evolutionary period, we see the starts of many of today’s modern groups of animals, and they’re super weird, too!
Honestly, the only weirder period in Earth’s history is the Cambrian Explosion, when animals first started doing anything notable at all
On top of THAT, the ENTIRE EARTH was ONE GIANT SUPERCONTINENT called Pangea! Everyone could go everywhere! There were no terrestrial barriers to movement! So many creatures spread all over the globe. It was a HOTSPOT of biodiversity and a major turning point in Earth’s History
But, because the dinosaurs that evolved in the Triassic were kind of Meh, it doesn’t get enough press!!!!!!!!!!!!!
So, we’re going to cover the Weird and Wonderful animals of the Triassic - we have a carefully curated list of Weirdos ready to take Tumblr by storm, and we hope you’ll enjoy learning about these amazing animals right along with us! You’ll have to wait till tomorrow to see them, though - don’t want to give away the surprises!
The thing you’ve gotta understand about Jurassic Park is that, as quaint as it seems today, at the time it was basically on the cutting edge. Many facets of its treatment of dinosaurs were very much not settled questions during the film’s production, and it was often criticised not for being too conservative, but for being too aggressively speculative – criticisms that would look very silly today, as most of those speculations turned out to be essentially correct. Where the film declined to speculate, it was nonetheless considerably more in line with the contemporary paleontological consensus than nearly any commercial film that came before it, even in spite of its numerous creative liberties.
Basically, what I mean to say is that any Jurassic Park fan who properly appreciates the spirit in which it was made would understand that it’s not a refutation of the film, but a carrying forward of its legacy to depict T-rexes as giant fluffy murder chickens.
The reason we fight so hard against people insisting that birds aren’t dinosaurs is because it signifies that you think dinosaurs are some kind of fantastical movie monster and not real, living creatures that used to exist on this Earth.
The key difference is that this time, the scientists used primarily bird DNA to fill the gaps in dinosaur genomes. This results in the dinosaurs being fully covered in feathers.
The Jeff Goldblum (skeptic character) is this time played by Chris Hemsworth, going Full Australian with his accent. He is the first one to express horror that they used emu DNA to finish the T-rex. “Have you ever met an emu? My country lost a war against them, and we had cars and machine guns. They’re nasty bastards.” Similar reactions happen when they learn about the raptors, who are proper biological size (i.e., coming to mid-calf) who were finished using a combination of hawk and chicken DNA. “Has nobody here been to a farm! Or played Zelda?”
We also get some ridiculous dinosaurs, like triceratops, where the frill is covered in peacock-like plumage, and extremely fluffy stegosaurs (”We wanted to have some dinos that would be really marketable in plush
a recent paper described the recovered tail of the same specimen described in 2014 of Spinosaurus, which shows it had very long neural spines and chevrons giving it a rudder-like shape, and solidifying it’s role as a largely aquatic predator! cool huh?
oculudentavis, a tiny little critter who’s skull was found in some amber. although the paper describes it as a theropod roughly the size of a bee hummingbird, the ‘unusual’ traits described are actually typical for lepidosaurs, so it is more likely to be one of those. I reconstructed it as the bird, because although I do agree with the lepidosaur hypothesis…birds are more fun to draw ;)