North America is a continent within the Northern Hemisphere and all within the Western Hemisphere. It is bordered to the north by the Arctic Ocean, to the east by the Atlantic Ocean, to the west and south by the Pacific Ocean, to the southeast by South America and the Caribbean Sea. North America covers an area of about 24,709,000 square kilometers, about 16.5% of the earth's land area and about 4.8% of its total surface. North America is the third largest continent by area, following Asia and Africa, the fourth by population after Asia and Europe. In 2013, its population was estimated at nearly 579 million people in 23 independent states, or about 7.5% of the world's population, if nearby islands are included. North America was reached by its first human populations during the last glacial period, via crossing the Bering land bridge 40,000 to 17,000 years ago; the so-called Paleo-Indian period is taken to have lasted until about 10,000 years ago. The Classic stage spans the 6th to 13th centuries.
The Pre-Columbian era ended in 1492, the transatlantic migrations—the arrival of European settlers during the Age of Discovery and the Early Modern period. Present-day cultural and ethnic patterns reflect interactions between European colonists, indigenous peoples, African slaves and their descendants. Owing to the European colonization of the Americas, most North Americans speak English, Spanish or French, their culture reflects Western traditions; the Americas are accepted as having been named after the Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci by the German cartographers Martin Waldseemüller and Matthias Ringmann. Vespucci, who explored South America between 1497 and 1502, was the first European to suggest that the Americas were not the East Indies, but a different landmass unknown by Europeans. In 1507, Waldseemüller produced a world map, in which he placed the word "America" on the continent of South America, in the middle of what is today Brazil, he explained the rationale for the name in the accompanying book Cosmographiae Introductio:... ab Americo inventore... quasi Americi terram sive Americam.
For Waldseemüller, no one should object to the naming of the land after its discoverer. He used the Latinized version of Vespucci's name, but in its feminine form "America", following the examples of "Europa", "Asia" and "Africa". Other mapmakers extended the name America to the northern continent, In 1538, Gerard Mercator used America on his map of the world for all the Western Hemisphere; some argue that because the convention is to use the surname for naming discoveries, the derivation from "Amerigo Vespucci" could be put in question. In 1874, Thomas Belt proposed a derivation from the Amerrique mountains of Central America. Marcou corresponded with Augustus Le Plongeon, who wrote: "The name AMERICA or AMERRIQUE in the Mayan language means, a country of perpetually strong wind, or the Land of the Wind, and... the can mean... a spirit that breathes, life itself." The United Nations formally recognizes "North America" as comprising three areas: Northern America, Central America, The Caribbean.
This has been formally defined by the UN Statistics Division. The term North America maintains various definitions in accordance with context. In Canadian English, North America refers to the land mass as a whole consisting of Mexico, the United States, Canada, although it is ambiguous which other countries are included, is defined by context. In the United States of America, usage of the term may refer only to Canada and the US, sometimes includes Greenland and Mexico, as well as offshore islands. In France, Portugal, Romania and the countries of Latin America, the cognates of North America designate a subcontinent of the Americas comprising Canada, the United States, Mexico, Greenland, Saint Pierre et Miquelon, Bermuda. North America has been referred to by other names. Spanish North America was referred to as Northern America, this was the first official name given to Mexico. Geographically the North American continent has many subregions; these include cultural and geographic regions. Economic regions included those formed by trade blocs, such as the North American Trade Agreement bloc and Central American Trade Agreement.
Linguistically and culturally, the continent could be divided into Latin America. Anglo-America includes most of Northern America and Caribbean islands with English-speaking populations; the southern North American continent is composed of two regions. These are the Caribbean; the north of the continent maintains recognized regions as well. In contrast to the common definition of "North America", which encompasses the whole continent, the term "North America" is sometimes used to refer only to Mexico, the United States, Greenland; the term Northern America refers to the northern-most countries and territories of North America: the United States, Bermuda, St. Pierre and Miquelon and Greenland. Although the term does not refer to a unifie
Animals are multicellular eukaryotic organisms that form the biological kingdom Animalia. With few exceptions, animals consume organic material, breathe oxygen, are able to move, can reproduce sexually, grow from a hollow sphere of cells, the blastula, during embryonic development. Over 1.5 million living animal species have been described—of which around 1 million are insects—but it has been estimated there are over 7 million animal species in total. Animals range in length from 8.5 millionths of a metre to 33.6 metres and have complex interactions with each other and their environments, forming intricate food webs. The category includes humans, but in colloquial use the term animal refers only to non-human animals; the study of non-human animals is known as zoology. Most living animal species are in the Bilateria, a clade whose members have a bilaterally symmetric body plan; the Bilateria include the protostomes—in which many groups of invertebrates are found, such as nematodes and molluscs—and the deuterostomes, containing the echinoderms and chordates.
Life forms interpreted. Many modern animal phyla became established in the fossil record as marine species during the Cambrian explosion which began around 542 million years ago. 6,331 groups of genes common to all living animals have been identified. Aristotle divided animals into those with those without. Carl Linnaeus created the first hierarchical biological classification for animals in 1758 with his Systema Naturae, which Jean-Baptiste Lamarck expanded into 14 phyla by 1809. In 1874, Ernst Haeckel divided the animal kingdom into the multicellular Metazoa and the Protozoa, single-celled organisms no longer considered animals. In modern times, the biological classification of animals relies on advanced techniques, such as molecular phylogenetics, which are effective at demonstrating the evolutionary relationships between animal taxa. Humans make use of many other animal species for food, including meat and eggs. Dogs have been used in hunting, while many aquatic animals are hunted for sport.
Non-human animals have appeared in art from the earliest times and are featured in mythology and religion. The word "animal" comes from the Latin animalis, having soul or living being; the biological definition includes all members of the kingdom Animalia. In colloquial usage, as a consequence of anthropocentrism, the term animal is sometimes used nonscientifically to refer only to non-human animals. Animals have several characteristics. Animals are eukaryotic and multicellular, unlike bacteria, which are prokaryotic, unlike protists, which are eukaryotic but unicellular. Unlike plants and algae, which produce their own nutrients animals are heterotrophic, feeding on organic material and digesting it internally. With few exceptions, animals breathe oxygen and respire aerobically. All animals are motile during at least part of their life cycle, but some animals, such as sponges, corals and barnacles become sessile; the blastula is a stage in embryonic development, unique to most animals, allowing cells to be differentiated into specialised tissues and organs.
All animals are composed of cells, surrounded by a characteristic extracellular matrix composed of collagen and elastic glycoproteins. During development, the animal extracellular matrix forms a flexible framework upon which cells can move about and be reorganised, making the formation of complex structures possible; this may be calcified, forming structures such as shells and spicules. In contrast, the cells of other multicellular organisms are held in place by cell walls, so develop by progressive growth. Animal cells uniquely possess the cell junctions called tight junctions, gap junctions, desmosomes. With few exceptions—in particular, the sponges and placozoans—animal bodies are differentiated into tissues; these include muscles, which enable locomotion, nerve tissues, which transmit signals and coordinate the body. There is an internal digestive chamber with either one opening or two openings. Nearly all animals make use of some form of sexual reproduction, they produce haploid gametes by meiosis.
These fuse to form zygotes, which develop via mitosis into a hollow sphere, called a blastula. In sponges, blastula larvae swim to a new location, attach to the seabed, develop into a new sponge. In most other groups, the blastula undergoes more complicated rearrangement, it first invaginates to form a gastrula with a digestive chamber and two separate germ layers, an external ectoderm and an internal endoderm. In most cases, a third germ layer, the mesoderm develops between them; these germ layers differentiate to form tissues and organs. Repeated instances of mating with a close relative during sexual reproduction leads to inbreeding depression within a population due to the increased prevalence of harmful recessive traits. Animals have evolved numerous mechanisms for avoiding close inbreeding. In some species, such as the splendid fairywren, females benefit by mating with multiple males, thus producing more offspring of higher genetic quality; some animals are capable of asexual reproduction, which results
The Cretaceous–Paleogene boundary known as the Cretaceous–Tertiary boundary, is a geological signature a thin band of rock. K, the first letter of the German word Kreide, is the traditional abbreviation for the Cretaceous Period and Pg is the abbreviation for the Paleogene Period; the K–Pg boundary marks the end of the Cretaceous Period, the last period of the Mesozoic Era, marks the beginning of the Paleogene Period, the first period of the Cenozoic Era. Its age is estimated at around 66 Ma, with radiometric dating yielding a more specific age of 66.043 ± 0.011 Ma. The K–Pg boundary is associated with the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event, a mass extinction which destroyed a majority of the world's Mesozoic species, including all dinosaurs except for birds. Strong evidence exists that the extinction coincided with a large meteorite impact at the Chicxulub crater and the accepted scientific theory is that this impact triggered the extinction event. In 1980, a team of researchers consisting of Nobel Prize-winning physicist Luis Alvarez, his son, geologist Walter Alvarez, chemists Frank Asaro and Helen Michel discovered that sedimentary layers found all over the world at the K–Pg boundary contain a concentration of iridium many times greater than normal.
Iridium is rare in the earth's crust because it is a siderophile element, therefore most of it sank with iron into the earth's core during planetary differentiation. As iridium remains abundant in most asteroids and comets, the Alvarez team suggested that an asteroid struck the earth at the time of the K–Pg boundary. There were other earlier speculations on the possibility of an impact event, but no evidence had been uncovered at that time; the evidence for the Alvarez impact theory is supported by chondritic meteorites and asteroids which have an iridium concentration of ~455 parts per billion, much higher than ~0.3 parts per billion typical of the Earth's crust. Chromium isotopic anomalies found in Cretaceous–Paleogene boundary sediments are similar to those of an asteroid or a comet composed of carbonaceous chondrites. Shocked quartz granules and tektite glass spherules, indicative of an impact event, are common in the K–Pg boundary in deposits from around the Caribbean. All of these constituents are embedded in a layer of clay, which the Alvarez team interpreted as the debris spread all over the world by the impact.
Using estimates of the total amount of iridium in the K–Pg layer, assuming that the asteroid contained the normal percentage of iridium found in chondrites, the Alvarez team went on to calculate the size of the asteroid. The answer was about 10 km in diameter, about the size of Manhattan; such a large impact would have had the energy of 100 trillion tons of TNT, or about 2 million times greater than the most powerful thermonuclear bomb tested. One of the consequences of such an impact is a dust cloud which would block sunlight and inhibit photosynthesis for a few years; this would account for the extinction of plants and phytoplankton and of organisms dependent on them. However, small creatures whose food chains were based on detritus might have still had a reasonable chance of survival. Vast amounts of sulfuric acid aerosols were ejected into the stratosphere as a result of the impact, leading to a 10–20% reduction in sunlight reaching the Earth's surface, it would have taken at least ten years for those aerosols to dissipate.
Global firestorms may have resulted. Analyses of fluid inclusions in ancient amber suggest that the oxygen content of the atmosphere was high during the late Cretaceous; this high O2 level would have supported intense combustion. The level of atmospheric O2 plummeted in the early Paleogene Period. If widespread fires occurred, they would have increased the CO2 content of the atmosphere and caused a temporary greenhouse effect once the dust cloud settled, this would have exterminated the most vulnerable survivors of the "long winter"; the impact may have produced acid rain, depending on what type of rock the asteroid struck. However, recent research suggests this effect was minor. Chemical buffers would have limited the changes, the survival of animals vulnerable to acid rain effects indicates that this was not a major contributor to extinction. Impact theories can only explain rapid extinctions, since the dust clouds and possible sulphuric aerosols would wash out of the atmosphere in a short time—possibly under ten years.
When it was proposed, one issue with the "Alvarez hypothesis" had been that no documented crater matched the event. This was not a lethal blow to the theory; the Chicxulub crater is an impact crater buried underneath the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico. Its center is located near the town of Chicxulub, it was formed by a large asteroid or comet about 10 to 15 kilometres in diameter, the Chicxulub impactor, striking the Earth. The date of the impact coincides with the Cretaceous–Paleogene boundary less than 66 million years ago, a accepted theory is that worldwide climate disruption from the event was the cause of the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event, a mass extinction in which 75% of plant and animal species on Earth became extinct, incl
The Jurassic period was a geologic period and system that spanned 56 million years from the end of the Triassic Period 201.3 million years ago to the beginning of the Cretaceous Period 145 Mya. The Jurassic constitutes the middle period of the Mesozoic Era known as the Age of Reptiles; the start of the period was marked by the major Triassic–Jurassic extinction event. Two other extinction events occurred during the period: the Pliensbachian-Toarcian extinction in the Early Jurassic, the Tithonian event at the end; the Jurassic period is divided into three epochs: Early and Late. In stratigraphy, the Jurassic is divided into the Lower Jurassic, Middle Jurassic, Upper Jurassic series of rock formations; the Jurassic is named after the Jura Mountains within the European Alps, where limestone strata from the period were first identified. By the beginning of the Jurassic, the supercontinent Pangaea had begun rifting into two landmasses: Laurasia to the north, Gondwana to the south; this created more coastlines and shifted the continental climate from dry to humid, many of the arid deserts of the Triassic were replaced by lush rainforests.
On land, the fauna transitioned from the Triassic fauna, dominated by both dinosauromorph and crocodylomorph archosaurs, to one dominated by dinosaurs alone. The first birds appeared during the Jurassic, having evolved from a branch of theropod dinosaurs. Other major events include the appearance of the earliest lizards, the evolution of therian mammals, including primitive placentals. Crocodilians made the transition from a terrestrial to an aquatic mode of life; the oceans were inhabited by marine reptiles such as ichthyosaurs and plesiosaurs, while pterosaurs were the dominant flying vertebrates. The chronostratigraphic term "Jurassic" is directly linked to the Jura Mountains, a mountain range following the course of the France–Switzerland border. During a tour of the region in 1795, Alexander von Humboldt recognized the limestone dominated mountain range of the Jura Mountains as a separate formation that had not been included in the established stratigraphic system defined by Abraham Gottlob Werner, he named it "Jura-Kalkstein" in 1799.
The name "Jura" is derived from the Celtic root *jor via Gaulish *iuris "wooded mountain", borrowed into Latin as a place name, evolved into Juria and Jura. The Jurassic period is divided into three epochs: Early and Late. In stratigraphy, the Jurassic is divided into the Lower Jurassic, Middle Jurassic, Upper Jurassic series of rock formations known as Lias and Malm in Europe; the separation of the term Jurassic into three sections originated with Leopold von Buch. The faunal stages from youngest to oldest are: During the early Jurassic period, the supercontinent Pangaea broke up into the northern supercontinent Laurasia and the southern supercontinent Gondwana; the Jurassic North Atlantic Ocean was narrow, while the South Atlantic did not open until the following Cretaceous period, when Gondwana itself rifted apart. The Tethys Sea closed, the Neotethys basin appeared. Climates were warm, with no evidence of a glacier having appeared; as in the Triassic, there was no land over either pole, no extensive ice caps existed.
The Jurassic geological record is good in western Europe, where extensive marine sequences indicate a time when much of that future landmass was submerged under shallow tropical seas. In contrast, the North American Jurassic record is the poorest of the Mesozoic, with few outcrops at the surface. Though the epicontinental Sundance Sea left marine deposits in parts of the northern plains of the United States and Canada during the late Jurassic, most exposed sediments from this period are continental, such as the alluvial deposits of the Morrison Formation; the Jurassic was a time of calcite sea geochemistry in which low-magnesium calcite was the primary inorganic marine precipitate of calcium carbonate. Carbonate hardgrounds were thus common, along with calcitic ooids, calcitic cements, invertebrate faunas with dominantly calcitic skeletons; the first of several massive batholiths were emplaced in the northern American cordillera beginning in the mid-Jurassic, marking the Nevadan orogeny. Important Jurassic exposures are found in Russia, South America, Japan and the United Kingdom.
In Africa, Early Jurassic strata are distributed in a similar fashion to Late Triassic beds, with more common outcrops in the south and less common fossil beds which are predominated by tracks to the north. As the Jurassic proceeded and more iconic groups of dinosaurs like sauropods and ornithopods proliferated in Africa. Middle Jurassic strata are neither well studied in Africa. Late Jurassic strata are poorly represented apart from the spectacular Tendaguru fauna in Tanzania; the Late Jurassic life of Tendaguru is similar to that found in western North America's Morrison Formation. During the Jurassic period, the primary vertebrates living in the sea were marine reptiles; the latter include ichthyosaurs, which were at the peak of their diversity, plesiosaurs and marine crocodiles of the families Teleosauridae and Metriorhynchidae. Numerous turtles could be found in rivers. In the invertebrate world, several new groups appeared, including rudists (a reef-formi
Sauropoda, or the sauropods, are a clade of saurischian dinosaurs. They had long necks, long tails, small heads, four thick, pillar-like legs, they are notable for the enormous sizes attained by some species, the group includes the largest animals to have lived on land. Well-known genera include Brachiosaurus, Diplodocus and Brontosaurus. Sauropods first appeared in the late Triassic Period, where they somewhat resembled the related group "Prosauropoda". By the Late Jurassic, sauropods had become widespread. By the Late Cretaceous, those groups had been replaced by the titanosaurs, which had a near-global distribution. However, as with all other non-avian dinosaurs alive at the time, the titanosaurs died out in the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event. Fossilised remains of sauropods have been found on every continent, including Antarctica; the name Sauropoda was coined by O. C. Marsh in 1878, is derived from Greek, meaning "lizard foot". Sauropods are one of the most recognizable groups of dinosaurs, have become a fixture in popular culture due to their large sizes.
Complete sauropod fossil finds are rare. Many species the largest, are known only from isolated and disarticulated bones. Many near-complete specimens lack tail tips and limbs. Sauropods were herbivorous quite long-necked quadrupeds with spatulate teeth, they had tiny heads, massive bodies, most had long tails. Their hind legs were thick and powerful, ending in club-like feet with five toes, though only the inner three bore claws, their forelimbs were rather more slender and ended in pillar-like hands built for supporting weight. Many illustrations of sauropods in the flesh miss these facts, inaccurately depicting sauropods with hooves capping the claw-less digits of the feet, or more than three claws or hooves on the hands; the proximal caudal vertebrae are diagnostic for sauropods. The sauropods' most defining characteristic was their size; the dwarf sauropods were counted among the largest animals in their ecosystem. Their only real competitors in terms of size are the rorquals, such as the blue whale.
But, unlike whales, sauropods were terrestrial animals. Their body structure did not vary as much as other dinosaurs due to size constraints, but they displayed ample variety. Some, like the diplodocids, possessed tremendously long tails, which they may have been able to crack like a whip as a signal or to deter or injure predators, or to make sonic booms. Supersaurus, at 33 to 34 metres long, was the longest sauropod known from reasonably complete remains, but others, like the old record holder, were extremely long; the holotype vertebra of Amphicoelias fragillimus may have come from an animal 58 metres long. However, a research published in 2015 speculated that the size estimates of A. fragillimus may have been exaggerated. The longest dinosaur known from reasonable fossils material is Argentinosaurus huinculensis with length estimates of 25 metres to 39.7 metres. The longest terrestrial animal alive today, the reticulated python, only reaches lengths of 6.95 metres. Others, like the brachiosaurids, were tall, with high shoulders and long necks.
Sauroposeidon was the tallest, reaching about 18 metres high, with the previous record for longest neck being held by Mamenchisaurus. By comparison, the giraffe, the tallest of all living land animals, is only 4.8 to 5.5 metres tall. The best evidence indicates that the most massive were Argentinosaurus, Alamosaurus, Antarctosaurus. There was poor evidence that so-called Bruhathkayosaurus, might have weighed over 175 metric tons but this has been questioned; the weight of Amphicoelias fragillimus was estimated at 122.4 metric tons but 2015 research argued that these estimates may have been exaggerated. The largest land animal alive today, the Savannah elephant, weighs no more than 10.4 metric tons. Among the smallest sauropods were the primitive Ohmdenosaurus, the dwarf titanosaur Magyarosaurus, the dwarf brachiosaurid Europasaurus, 6.2 meters long as a fully-grown adult. Its small stature was the result of insular dwarfism occurring in a population of sauropods isolated on an island of the late Jurassic in what is now the Langenberg area of northern Germany.
The diplodocoid sauropod Brachytrachelopan was the shortest member of its group because of its unusually short neck. Unlike other sauropods, whose necks could grow to up to four times the length of their backs, the neck of Brachytrachelopan was shorter than its backbone. On or shortly before 29 March 2017 a sauropod footprint about 5.6 feet long was found at Walmadany in the Kimberley Region of Western Australia. The report said; as massive quadrupeds, sauropods developed specialized graviportal limbs. The hind feet were broad, retained three claws in most species. Unusual compared with other animals were the modified front feet; the front feet of sauropods were dissimilar from those of modern
The Carboniferous is a geologic period and system that spans 60 million years from the end of the Devonian Period 358.9 million years ago, to the beginning of the Permian Period, 298.9 Mya. The name Carboniferous means "coal-bearing" and derives from the Latin words carbō and ferō, was coined by geologists William Conybeare and William Phillips in 1822. Based on a study of the British rock succession, it was the first of the modern'system' names to be employed, reflects the fact that many coal beds were formed globally during that time; the Carboniferous is treated in North America as two geological periods, the earlier Mississippian and the Pennsylvanian. Terrestrial animal life was well established by the Carboniferous period. Amphibians were the dominant land vertebrates, of which one branch would evolve into amniotes, the first terrestrial vertebrates. Arthropods were very common, many were much larger than those of today. Vast swaths of forest covered the land, which would be laid down and become the coal beds characteristic of the Carboniferous stratigraphy evident today.
The atmospheric content of oxygen reached its highest levels in geological history during the period, 35% compared with 21% today, allowing terrestrial invertebrates to evolve to great size. The half of the period experienced glaciations, low sea level, mountain building as the continents collided to form Pangaea. A minor marine and terrestrial extinction event, the Carboniferous rainforest collapse, occurred at the end of the period, caused by climate change. In the United States the Carboniferous is broken into Mississippian and Pennsylvanian subperiods; the Mississippian is about twice as long as the Pennsylvanian, but due to the large thickness of coal-bearing deposits with Pennsylvanian ages in Europe and North America, the two subperiods were long thought to have been more or less equal in duration. In Europe the Lower Carboniferous sub-system is known as the Dinantian, comprising the Tournaisian and Visean Series, dated at 362.5-332.9 Ma, the Upper Carboniferous sub-system is known as the Silesian, comprising the Namurian and Stephanian Series, dated at 332.9-298.9 Ma.
The Silesian is contemporaneous with the late Mississippian Serpukhovian plus the Pennsylvanian. In Britain the Dinantian is traditionally known as the Carboniferous Limestone, the Namurian as the Millstone Grit, the Westphalian as the Coal Measures and Pennant Sandstone; the International Commission on Stratigraphy faunal stages from youngest to oldest, together with some of their regional subdivisions, are: A global drop in sea level at the end of the Devonian reversed early in the Carboniferous. There was a drop in south polar temperatures; these conditions had little effect in the deep tropics, where lush swamps to become coal, flourished to within 30 degrees of the northernmost glaciers. Mid-Carboniferous, a drop in sea level precipitated a major marine extinction, one that hit crinoids and ammonites hard; this sea level drop and the associated unconformity in North America separate the Mississippian subperiod from the Pennsylvanian subperiod. This happened about 323 million years ago, at the onset of the Permo-Carboniferous Glaciation.
The Carboniferous was a time of active mountain-building as the supercontinent Pangaea came together. The southern continents remained tied together in the supercontinent Gondwana, which collided with North America–Europe along the present line of eastern North America; this continental collision resulted in the Hercynian orogeny in Europe, the Alleghenian orogeny in North America. In the same time frame, much of present eastern Eurasian plate welded itself to Europe along the line of the Ural Mountains. Most of the Mesozoic supercontinent of Pangea was now assembled, although North China, South China continents were still separated from Laurasia; the Late Carboniferous Pangaea was shaped like an "O." There were two major oceans in the Carboniferous—Panthalassa and Paleo-Tethys, inside the "O" in the Carboniferous Pangaea. Other minor oceans were shrinking and closed - Rheic Ocean, the small, shallow Ural Ocean and Proto-Tethys Ocean. Average global temperatures in the Early Carboniferous Period were high: 20 °C.
However, cooling during the Middle Carboniferous reduced average global temperatures to about 12 °C. Lack of growth rings of fossilized trees suggest a lack of seasons of a tropical climate. Glaciations in Gondwana, triggered by Gondwana's southward movement, continued into the Permian and because of the lack of clear markers and breaks, the deposits of this glacial period are referred to as Permo-Carboniferous in age; the cooling and drying of the climate led to the Carboniferous Rainforest Collapse during the late Carboniferous. Tropical rainforests fragmented and were devastated by climate change. Carboniferous rocks in Europe and eastern North America consist of a repeated sequence of limestone, sandstone and coal beds. In North America, the early Carboniferous is marine
Titanosaurs were a diverse group of sauropod dinosaurs which included Saltasaurus and Isisaurus. The titanosaurs were the last surviving group of long-necked sauropods, with taxa still thriving at the time of the extinction event at the end of the Cretaceous; the group includes the largest land animals known to have existed, such as Patagotitan—estimated at 37 m long with a weight of 69 tonnes —and the comparably sized Argentinosaurus and Puertasaurus from the same region. The group's name alludes to the mythological Titans of Ancient Greece, via the type genus Titanosaurus. Together with the brachiosaurids and relatives, titanosaurs make up the larger clade Titanosauriformes. Titanosaurs had small heads when compared with other sauropods; the head was wide, similar to the heads of Camarasaurus and Brachiosaurus but more elongated. Their nostrils were large and they all had crests formed by these nasal bones, their teeth were either somewhat spatulate or like pegs or pencils, but were always small.
Their necks were of average length, for sauropods, their tails were whip-like, but not as long as in the diplodocids. While the pelvis was slimmer than some sauropods, the pectoral was much wider, giving them a uniquely'wide-gauged' stance; as a result, the fossilised trackways of titanosaurs are distinctly broader than other sauropods. Their forelimbs were stocky, longer than their hind limbs, their vertebrae were solid. Their spinal column was more flexible, so they were more agile than their cousins and better at rearing up. Unlike other sauropods, some titanosaurs had no digits or digit bones, walked only on horseshoe-shaped "stumps" made up of the columnar metacarpal bones. From skin impressions found with the fossils, it has been determined that the skin of many titanosaur species was armored with a small mosaic of small, bead-like scales around a larger scale. One species, has been discovered with bony plates, like the ankylosaurs. Studies published in 2011 indicate that titanosaurs such as Rapetosaurus, may have used the osteoderms common in the various genera for storing minerals during harsh changes in climate, such as drought.
While they were all huge, many were average in size compared with the other giant dinosaurs. There were some island-dwelling dwarf species such as Magyarosaurus the result of allopatric speciation and insular dwarfism; the family Titanosauridae was once used for derived titanosaurs, but Wilson and Upchurch found the type genus Titanosaurus dubious based on the figures and original description. Weishampel et al. in the second edition of The Dinosauria did not use the family Titanosauridae, instead used several smaller titanosaur families such as Saltasauridae and Nemegtosauridae, coining Lithostrotia for derived titanosaurs. A handful of Argentine sauropod workers, continue to use Titanosauridae for titanosaurs now placed in Lithostrotia. In the second edition of The Dinosauria, the clade Titanosauria was defined as all sauropods closer to Saltasaurus than to Brachiosaurus. Subsequent cladistic analyses have defined Titanosauria as including Saltasaurus but not Euhelopus or Brachiosaurus. Relationships within the Titanosauria have been variable from study to study, complicated by the fact that clade and rank names have been applied inconsistently by various scientists.
One possible cladogram is presented here, follows a 2007 analysis by Calvo and colleagues. The authors notably used the family Titanosauridae in a broader fashion than other recent studies, coined the new clade name Lognkosauria. In the description of Mansourasaurus, Sallam et al. published a phylogenetic analysis of Titanosauria including the most taxa of any analysis of the clade. The relationships within Titanosauria can be seen below. Fossilized dung associated with late Cretaceous titanosaurids has revealed phytoliths, silicified plant fragments, that offer clues to a broad, unselective plant diet. Besides the plant remains that might have been expected, such as cycads and conifers, discoveries published in 2005 revealed an unexpectedly wide range of monocotyledons, including palms and grasses, including ancestors of rice and bamboo, which has given rise to speculation that herbivorous dinosaurs and grasses co-evolved. A large titanosaurid nesting ground was discovered in Auca Mahuevo, in Patagonia and another colony has been discovered in Spain.
Several hundred female saltasaurs dug holes with their back feet, laid eggs in clutches averaging around 25 eggs each, buried the nests under dirt and vegetation. The small eggs, about 11–12 centimetres in diameter, contained fossilised embryos, complete with skin impressions; the impressions showed. The huge number of individuals gives evidence of herd behavior, along with their armor, could have helped provide protection against large predators such as Abelisaurus; the titanosaurs were the last great group of sauropods, which existed from about 136 to 66 million years ago, before the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event, were the dominant herbivores of their time. The fossil evidence suggests they replaced the other sauropods, like the diplodocids and the brachiosaurids, which died out between the late Jurassic and the mid-Cretaceous Periods. Titanosaurs were widespread. In December 2011, Argentine scientists announced titanosaur fossils had been found on Antarctica—meaning that titanosaur fossils