The Triassic Period?

The Triassic Period constituted the beginning of dinosaur times and the ancestry to millions of years spanning continents and giving rise to many of the great giants studied still today.

The Triassic Period was the first time of the dinosaurs and occurred about 250 million years ago, marking the beginning of the Mesozoic Era.

Some dinosaurs that existed then include the ichthyosaurs that were marine reptiles that resembled today's dolphins and the plesiosaurs that were marine reptiles that resembled turtle-like creatures. The first species to change from a larva to adult occurred during this time, which was the first of insects. Mammals also began existing during this time.

Actually, at the very beginning of the Triassic Period, there were no dinosaurs at all. Instead, there were many amphibians, some reptiles and dicynodonts (like Lystrosaurus). Corals started appearing and ammonites were being found. Seed plants dominated the land and conifer trees grew well also.

At the beginning of the Triassic the continents were together in one big continent known as Pangaea -- built up at the end of the Paleozoic Era. This one large continent eventually began to fracture, sea levels rose and the climate became warmer and drier.

The Triassic name came about in 1834 by the German geologist Friedrich August Von Alberti. It got its name because this period of geologic time was represented by a three-part division of rock types in Germany -- the Bunter, the Muschelkalk, and the Keuper.

Dring this time, Eoraptor lived -- the oldest known dinosaur. Discovered in Argentina in 1993, scientists think this dinosaur was a small carnivore. Some researchers don't even believe it was a dinosaur since some characteristics commonly found in dinosaurs were absent in this creature.

The first dinosaurs of this time tended to be rather small and slightly built, averaging 10 to 15 feet in length. They walked on two legs, called bipedal, and were omnivores, ate plants and meat. Most likely very agile creatures, these dinosaurs were thought to be fast.

During the mid-Triassic Period, dinosaurs evolved from the thecodonts that were socket-toothed creatures to resembling a crocodile-like reptile.

During the Triassic Period, dinosaurs lived all over the world. Within North America, all different types ruled the area.

The Anchisaurus was a primitive dinosaur that ate plants, averaged 7 to 10 feet in length and lived in the eastern part of North America. The Massosponylus might have been the very first dinosaur that was an herbivore, a plant-eater. It had a long neck and also lived in Arizona. Revueltosaurus was a ornithischian, plant eater, from New Mexico, and apparently was discovered by finding only one tooth. Anchisaurus was a 7 to 10 foot long plant-eater living during the Triassic Period.

Arctosaurus was a 10-foot long theropod that lived in the artic of our continent. Ceratosaurus meant horned lizard and was an early therapod which features resembling a bird though it was a meat-eater. It moved very fast and grew to 20 feet in length.

Ceolophysis was also a therapod with a herding tendency. This dinosaur was bipedal and a meat-eater as well as a cannibal. Averaging 9 feet in length, this creature was quick, agile and lived in the western part of the United States. Coelophysis, which means hollow form, was found in Arizona and New Mexico, Coelophysis received its name due to its bone structure. This carnivore was very common during the late Triassic period and grew to 10 feet in length.

Dilophosaurus was a therapod with a double-crest. This creature lived in Arizona and was found during both the late Triassic Period and the early Jurassic as well. Rioarribasaurus was a therapod, meaning bipedal meat-eater, as well as a cannibal that grew to 9 feet in length. This western United States dinosaur was fast and agile and may be similar or the same as Coelophysis. Zatomus was also a meat-eater; little else is known about this dinosaur that lived in North Carolina.

Protosuchus was an early crocodile which grew to 4 feet in length and came from New Mexico. Saltoposuchus was a bipedal reptile with a slight build and just 3 feet long. This meat-eating reptile had very sharp, razor-like teeth, armored plates down the back and long back legs.

Plateosaurus, which means large or flat lizard was found in Germany during the 1800's. This dinosaur was about 26 feet long from its head to its tail and is one of the first big dinosaurs to be found. The Plateosaurus had hips like a bird and was a plant-eater, a herbivore. Like a bird, Plateosaurus ate rocks to aid in digestion; this was discovered upon examination of their skeletons.

Herrerasaurus was the earliest known dinosaur, was a 10 to 20 feet long meat eater that hunted in groups and weighed 400 pounds.

Staurikosaur, known as the Southern Cross Lizard was the size and weight of a human adult.

From plant eater to meat eater and land dwelling to ocean originated, all the dinosaurs of this era had one thing in common -- they were the ancestors of later dinosaurs and history makers for the remainder of life.

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