If you're a giant, ground-stalking stork-reptile, a powerful neck and large head mean you can go after bigger prey. Evolution can do weird things on islands, and in this case, the largest local dinosaurs were only about the size of a cow. For Hatzegopteryx , this may have been a land of plenty — plenty of prey, that is. Even more intriguing, all the theropods meat-eating dinosaurs on this island were small. This means Hatzegopteryx was not only a large and powerful carnivore, but it also appears to have been the apex predator of its ecosystem.
I'm not sure which is scarier. This research was published in the journal PeerJ. Top header image: Peter Montgomery, Flickr. David Moscato is a science communicator, writer and educator with a background in palaeontology. Follow him DMos or on his blog, The Meniscus. Our planet is a busy, crazy place.
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Take your passion further by supporting and driving more of the nature news you know and love. Something strange happens in the fossil record towards the end of the Age of Pterosaurs: all the little pterosaurs seem to disappear. Anyone who's ever seen 'Jurassic Park' knows tyrannosaurs are terrifying. But new research proves we had no idea just how terrifying. It turns out Discoveries Fossils.
By David Moscato January 30 Image: Mark Witton. Dinosaurs roamed Antarctica, even with its long winter night. The lengthy Cretaceous Period constitutes a major portion of the interval between ancient life-forms and those that dominate Earth today. Giant marine reptiles such as ichthyosaurs , mosasaurs , and plesiosaurs were common in the seas, and flying reptiles pterosaurs dominated the sky. Flowering plants angiosperms arose close to the beginning of the Cretaceous and became more abundant as the period progressed.
The Cretaceous ended with one of the greatest mass extinctions in the history of Earth , exterminating the dinosaurs, marine and flying reptiles, and many marine invertebrates. At the onset of the period there existed two supercontinents, Gondwana in the south and Laurasia in the north. Africa had split from South America, the last land connection being between Brazil and Nigeria.
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Once separated from Australia and Antarctica, India began its journey northward, which culminated in a later collision with Asia during the Cenozoic Era. Australia was still joined to Antarctica. These were barely attached at the junction of what are now North and South America.
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Sea level was higher during most of the Cretaceous than at any other time in Earth history, and it was a major factor influencing the paleogeography of the period. In general, world oceans were about to metres to feet higher in the Early Cretaceous and roughly to metres to feet higher in the Late Cretaceous than at present.
The high Cretaceous sea level is thought to have been primarily the result of water in the ocean basins being displaced by the enlargement of midoceanic ridges. As a result of higher sea levels during the Late Cretaceous, marine waters inundated the continents , creating relatively shallow epicontinental seas in North America, South America, Europe, Russia , Africa, and Australia. In addition, all continents shrank somewhat as their margins flooded.
At times, Arctic waters were connected to the Tethys seaway through the middle of North America and the central portion of Russia. On several occasions during the Cretaceous, marine animals living in the South Atlantic had a seaway for migration to Tethys via what is presently Nigeria, Niger , Chad , and Libya. Most of western Europe, eastern Australia, parts of Africa, South America, India, Madagascar, Borneo , and other areas that are now land were entirely covered by marine waters for some interval of Cretaceous time. Detailed study indicates 5 to 15 different episodes of rises and falls in sea level.
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The patterns of changes for the stable areas throughout history are quite similar, although several differences are notable. During most of the Early Cretaceous, parts of Arctic Canada , Russia, and western Australia were underwater, but most of the other areas were not. During the middle Cretaceous, east-central Australia experienced major inundations called transgressions. In the Late Cretaceous, most continental landmasses were transgressed but not always at the same time.
Eustacy would result in sea level being different from ocean basin to ocean basin.
Water circulation and mixing were not as great as they are today, because most of the oceans e. Thus, the oceans experienced frequent periods of anoxic oxygenless conditions in the bottom waters that reveal themselves today as black shales. Sometimes, particularly during the mid-Cretaceous, conditions extended to epicontinental seas, as attested by deposits of black shales in the western interior of North America. The Cretaceous world had three distinct geographic subdivisions: the northern boreal, the southern boreal, and the Tethyan region.
The Tethyan region separated the two boreal regions and is recognized by the presence of fossilized reef-forming rudist bivalves , corals , larger foraminiferans single-celled organisms known for their glasslike shells, or tests , and certain ammonites a group of extinct cephalopods known for their spiral shells that inhabited only the warmer Tethyan waters.
Early in the Cretaceous, North and South America separated sufficiently for the marine connection between the Tethys Sea and the Pacific to deepen substantially. The Tethys-to-Pacific marine connection allowed for a strong westward-flowing current , which is inferred from faunal patterns. For example, as the Cretaceous progressed, the similarity between rudist bivalves of the Caribbean and western Europe decreased, while some Caribbean forms have been found on Pacific seamounts , in Southeast Asia , and possibly in the Balkans. The remnants of the northern boreal realm in North America, Europe, Russia, and Japan have been extensively studied.