The Cretaceous is a geologic period and system that spans 79 million years from the end of the Jurassic Period 145 million years ago to the beginning of the Paleogene Period 66 mya. It is the last period of the Mesozoic Era, the longest period of the Phanerozoic Eon; the Cretaceous Period is abbreviated K, for its German translation Kreide. The Cretaceous was a period with a warm climate, resulting in high eustatic sea levels that created numerous shallow inland seas; these oceans and seas were populated with now-extinct marine reptiles and rudists, while dinosaurs continued to dominate on land. During this time, new groups of mammals and birds, as well as flowering plants, appeared; the Cretaceous ended with the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event, a large mass extinction in which many groups, including non-avian dinosaurs and large marine reptiles died out. The end of the Cretaceous is defined by the abrupt Cretaceous–Paleogene boundary, a geologic signature associated with the mass extinction which lies between the Mesozoic and Cenozoic eras.
The Cretaceous as a separate period was first defined by Belgian geologist Jean d'Omalius d'Halloy in 1822, using strata in the Paris Basin and named for the extensive beds of chalk, found in the upper Cretaceous of Western Europe. The name Cretaceous was derived from Latin creta; the Cretaceous is divided into Early and Late Cretaceous epochs, or Lower and Upper Cretaceous series. In older literature the Cretaceous is sometimes divided into three series: Neocomian and Senonian. A subdivision in eleven stages, all originating from European stratigraphy, is now used worldwide. In many parts of the world, alternative local subdivisions are still in use; as with other older geologic periods, the rock beds of the Cretaceous are well identified but the exact age of the system's base is uncertain by a few million years. No great extinction or burst of diversity separates the Cretaceous from the Jurassic. However, the top of the system is defined, being placed at an iridium-rich layer found worldwide, believed to be associated with the Chicxulub impact crater, with its boundaries circumscribing parts of the Yucatán Peninsula and into the Gulf of Mexico.
This layer has been dated at 66.043 Ma. A 140 Ma age for the Jurassic-Cretaceous boundary instead of the accepted 145 Ma was proposed in 2014 based on a stratigraphic study of Vaca Muerta Formation in Neuquén Basin, Argentina. Víctor Ramos, one of the authors of the study proposing the 140 Ma boundary age sees the study as a "first step" toward formally changing the age in the International Union of Geological Sciences. From youngest to oldest, the subdivisions of the Cretaceous period are: Late Cretaceous Maastrichtian – Campanian – Santonian – Coniacian – Turonian – Cenomanian – Early Cretaceous Albian – Aptian – Barremian – Hauterivian – Valanginian – Berriasian – The high sea level and warm climate of the Cretaceous meant large areas of the continents were covered by warm, shallow seas, providing habitat for many marine organisms; the Cretaceous was named for the extensive chalk deposits of this age in Europe, but in many parts of the world, the deposits from the Cretaceous are of marine limestone, a rock type, formed under warm, shallow marine circumstances.
Due to the high sea level, there was extensive space for such sedimentation. Because of the young age and great thickness of the system, Cretaceous rocks are evident in many areas worldwide. Chalk is a rock type characteristic for the Cretaceous, it consists of coccoliths, microscopically small calcite skeletons of coccolithophores, a type of algae that prospered in the Cretaceous seas. In northwestern Europe, chalk deposits from the Upper Cretaceous are characteristic for the Chalk Group, which forms the white cliffs of Dover on the south coast of England and similar cliffs on the French Normandian coast; the group is found in England, northern France, the low countries, northern Germany, Denmark and in the subsurface of the southern part of the North Sea. Chalk is not consolidated and the Chalk Group still consists of loose sediments in many places; the group has other limestones and arenites. Among the fossils it contains are sea urchins, belemnites and sea reptiles such as Mosasaurus. In southern Europe, the Cretaceous is a marine system consisting of competent limestone beds or incompetent marls.
Because the Alpine mountain chains did not yet exist in the Cretaceous, these deposits formed on the southern edge of the European continental shelf, at the margin of the Tethys Ocean. Stagnation of deep sea currents in middle Cretaceous times caused anoxic conditions in the sea water leaving the deposited organic matter undecomposed. Half the worlds petroleum reserves were laid down at this time in the anoxic conditions of what would become the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Mexico. In many places around the world, dark anoxic shales were formed during this interval; these shales are an important source rock for oil and gas, for example in the subsurface of the North Sea. During th
The Miocene is the first geological epoch of the Neogene Period and extends from about 23.03 to 5.333 million years ago. The Miocene was named by Charles Lyell; the Miocene is followed by the Pliocene. As the earth went from the Oligocene through the Miocene and into the Pliocene, the climate cooled towards a series of ice ages; the Miocene boundaries are not marked by a single distinct global event but consist rather of regionally defined boundaries between the warmer Oligocene and the cooler Pliocene Epoch. The Apes first evolved and diversified during the early Miocene, becoming widespread in the Old World. By the end of this epoch and the start of the following one, the ancestors of humans had split away from the ancestors of the chimpanzees to follow their own evolutionary path during the final Messinian stage of the Miocene; as in the Oligocene before it, grasslands continued to forests to dwindle in extent. In the seas of the Miocene, kelp forests made their first appearance and soon became one of Earth's most productive ecosystems.
The plants and animals of the Miocene were recognizably modern. Mammals and birds were well-established. Whales and kelp spread; the Miocene is of particular interest to geologists and palaeoclimatologists as major phases of the geology of the Himalaya occurred during the Miocene, affecting monsoonal patterns in Asia, which were interlinked with glacial periods in the northern hemisphere. The Miocene faunal stages from youngest to oldest are named according to the International Commission on Stratigraphy: Regionally, other systems are used, based on characteristic land mammals. Of the modern geologic features, only the land bridge between South America and North America was absent, although South America was approaching the western subduction zone in the Pacific Ocean, causing both the rise of the Andes and a southward extension of the Meso-American peninsula. Mountain building took place in western North America and East Asia. Both continental and marine Miocene deposits are common worldwide with marine outcrops common near modern shorelines.
Well studied continental exposures occur in Argentina. India continued creating dramatic new mountain ranges; the Tethys Seaway continued to shrink and disappeared as Africa collided with Eurasia in the Turkish–Arabian region between 19 and 12 Ma. The subsequent uplift of mountains in the western Mediterranean region and a global fall in sea levels combined to cause a temporary drying up of the Mediterranean Sea near the end of the Miocene; the global trend was towards increasing aridity caused by global cooling reducing the ability of the atmosphere to absorb moisture. Uplift of East Africa in the late Miocene was responsible for the shrinking of tropical rain forests in that region, Australia got drier as it entered a zone of low rainfall in the Late Miocene. During the Oligocene and Early Miocene the coast of northern Brazil, south-central Peru, central Chile and large swathes of inland Patagonia were subject to a marine transgression; the transgressions in the west coast of South America is thought to be caused by a regional phenomenon while the rising central segment of the Andes represents an exception.
While there are numerous registers of Oligo-Miocene transgressions around the world it is doubtful that these correlate. It is thought that the Oligo-Miocene transgression in Patagonia could have temporarily linked the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, as inferred from the findings of marine invertebrate fossils of both Atlantic and Pacific affinity in La Cascada Formation. Connection would have occurred through narrow epicontinental seaways that formed channels in a dissected topography; the Antarctic Plate started to subduct beneath South America 14 million years ago in the Miocene, forming the Chile Triple Junction. At first the Antarctic Plate subducted only in the southernmost tip of Patagonia, meaning that the Chile Triple Junction lay near the Strait of Magellan; as the southern part of Nazca Plate and the Chile Rise became consumed by subduction the more northerly regions of the Antarctic Plate begun to subduct beneath Patagonia so that the Chile Triple Junction advanced to the north over time.
The asthenospheric window associated to the triple junction disturbed previous patterns of mantle convection beneath Patagonia inducing an uplift of ca. 1 km that reversed the Oligocene–Miocene transgression. Climates remained moderately warm, although the slow global cooling that led to the Pleistocene glaciations continued. Although a long-term cooling trend was well underway, there is evidence of a warm period during the Miocene when the global climate rivalled that of the Oligocene; the Miocene warming b
Pinnipeds known as seals, are a distributed and diverse clade of carnivorous, fin-footed, semiaquatic marine mammals. They comprise the extant families Odobenidae and Phocidae. There are 33 extant species of pinnipeds, more than 50 extinct species have been described from fossils. While seals were thought to have descended from two ancestral lines, molecular evidence supports them as a monophyletic lineage. Pinnipeds belong to the order Carnivora and their closest living relatives are believed to be bears and the superfamily of musteloids, having diverged about 50 million years ago. Seals range in size from the 1 m and 45 kg Baikal seal to the 5 m and 3,200 kg southern elephant seal, the largest member of the order Carnivora. Several species exhibit sexual dimorphism, they have four limbs that are modified into flippers. Though not as fast in the water as dolphins, seals are more agile. Otariids use their front limbs to propel themselves through the water, while phocids and walruses use their hind limbs.
Otariids and walruses have hind limbs that can be used as legs on land. By comparison, terrestrial locomotion by phocids is more cumbersome. Otariids have visible external ears, while walruses lack these. Pinnipeds have well-developed senses—their eyesight and hearing are adapted for both air and water, they have an advanced tactile system in their whiskers or vibrissae; some species are well adapted for diving to great depths. They have a layer of fat, or blubber, under the skin to keep warm in the cold water, other than the walrus, all species are covered in fur. Although pinnipeds are widespread, most species prefer the colder waters of the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, they spend most of their lives in the water, but come ashore to mate, give birth, molt or escape from predators, such as sharks and killer whales. They feed on fish and marine invertebrates. Walruses are specialized for feeding on bottom-dwelling mollusks. Male pinnipeds mate with more than one female, although the degree of polygyny varies with the species.
The males of land-breeding species tend to mate with a greater number of females than those of ice breeding species. Male pinniped strategies for reproductive success vary between defending females, defending territories that attract females and performing ritual displays or lek mating. Pups are born in the spring and summer months and females bear all the responsibility for raising them. Mothers of some species fast and nurse their young for a short period of time while others take foraging trips at sea between nursing bouts. Walruses are known to nurse their young while at sea. Seals produce a number of vocalizations, notably the barks of California sea lions, the gong-like calls of walruses and the complex songs of Weddell seals; the meat and fur coats of pinnipeds have traditionally been used by indigenous peoples of the Arctic. Seals have been depicted in various cultures worldwide, they are kept in captivity and are sometimes trained to perform tricks and tasks. Once relentlessly hunted by commercial industries for their products and walruses are now protected by international law.
The Japanese sea lion and the Caribbean monk seal have become extinct in the past century, while the Mediterranean monk seal and Hawaiian monk seal are ranked endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Besides hunting, pinnipeds face threats from accidental trapping, marine pollution, conflicts with local people; the German naturalist Johann Karl Wilhelm Illiger was the first to recognize the pinnipeds as a distinct taxonomic unit. American zoologist Joel Asaph Allen reviewed the world's pinnipeds in an 1880 monograph, History of North American pinnipeds, a monograph of the walruses, sea-lions, sea-bears and seals of North America. In this publication, he traced the history of names, gave keys to families and genera, described North American species and provided synopses of species in other parts of the world. In 1989, Annalisa Berta and colleagues proposed the unranked clade Pinnipedimorpha to contain the fossil genus Enaliarctos and modern seals as a sister group. Pinnipeds belong to the suborder Caniformia.
Pinnipedia was considered its own suborder under Carnivora. Of the three extant families, the Otariidae and Odobenidae are grouped in the superfamily Otarioidea, while the Phocidae belong to the superfamily Phocoidea. Otariids are known as eared seals due to the presence of pinnae; these animals rely on their well-developed fore-flippers to propel themselves through the water. They can turn their hind-flippers forward and "walk" on land; the anterior end of an otariid's frontal bones extends between the nasal bones, the supraorbital foramen is large and flat horizontally. The supraspinatous fossas are divided by a "secondary spine" and the bronchi are divided anteriorly. Otariids consist of two types: fur seals. Sea lions are distinguished by their rounder snouts and shorter, rougher pelage, while fur seals have more pointed snouts, longer fore-flippers and thicker fur coats that include an undercoat and guard hairs; the former tend to be larger than the latter. Five genera and seven species of
Mammals are vertebrate animals constituting the class Mammalia, characterized by the presence of mammary glands which in females produce milk for feeding their young, a neocortex, fur or hair, three middle ear bones. These characteristics distinguish them from reptiles and birds, from which they diverged in the late Triassic, 201–227 million years ago. There are around 5,450 species of mammals; the largest orders are the rodents and Soricomorpha. The next three are the Primates, the Cetartiodactyla, the Carnivora. In cladistics, which reflect evolution, mammals are classified as endothermic amniotes, they are the only living Synapsida. The early synapsid mammalian ancestors were sphenacodont pelycosaurs, a group that produced the non-mammalian Dimetrodon. At the end of the Carboniferous period around 300 million years ago, this group diverged from the sauropsid line that led to today's reptiles and birds; the line following the stem group Sphenacodontia split off several diverse groups of non-mammalian synapsids—sometimes referred to as mammal-like reptiles—before giving rise to the proto-mammals in the early Mesozoic era.
The modern mammalian orders arose in the Paleogene and Neogene periods of the Cenozoic era, after the extinction of non-avian dinosaurs, have been among the dominant terrestrial animal groups from 66 million years ago to the present. The basic body type is quadruped, most mammals use their four extremities for terrestrial locomotion. Mammals range in size from the 30–40 mm bumblebee bat to the 30-meter blue whale—the largest animal on the planet. Maximum lifespan varies from two years for the shrew to 211 years for the bowhead whale. All modern mammals give birth to live young, except the five species of monotremes, which are egg-laying mammals; the most species-rich group of mammals, the cohort called placentals, have a placenta, which enables the feeding of the fetus during gestation. Most mammals are intelligent, with some possessing large brains, self-awareness, tool use. Mammals can communicate and vocalize in several different ways, including the production of ultrasound, scent-marking, alarm signals and echolocation.
Mammals can organize themselves into fission-fusion societies and hierarchies—but can be solitary and territorial. Most mammals are polygynous. Domestication of many types of mammals by humans played a major role in the Neolithic revolution, resulted in farming replacing hunting and gathering as the primary source of food for humans; this led to a major restructuring of human societies from nomadic to sedentary, with more co-operation among larger and larger groups, the development of the first civilizations. Domesticated mammals provided, continue to provide, power for transport and agriculture, as well as food and leather. Mammals are hunted and raced for sport, are used as model organisms in science. Mammals have been depicted in art since Palaeolithic times, appear in literature, film and religion. Decline in numbers and extinction of many mammals is driven by human poaching and habitat destruction deforestation. Mammal classification has been through several iterations since Carl Linnaeus defined the class.
No classification system is universally accepted. George Gaylord Simpson's "Principles of Classification and a Classification of Mammals" provides systematics of mammal origins and relationships that were universally taught until the end of the 20th century. Since Simpson's classification, the paleontological record has been recalibrated, the intervening years have seen much debate and progress concerning the theoretical underpinnings of systematization itself through the new concept of cladistics. Though field work made Simpson's classification outdated, it remains the closest thing to an official classification of mammals. Most mammals, including the six most species-rich orders, belong to the placental group; the three largest orders in numbers of species are Rodentia: mice, porcupines, beavers and other gnawing mammals. The next three biggest orders, depending on the biological classification scheme used, are the Primates including the apes and lemurs. According to Mammal Species of the World, 5,416 species were identified in 2006.
These were grouped into 153 families and 29 orders. In 2008, the International Union for Conservation of Nature completed a five-year Global Mammal Assessment for its IUCN Red List, which counted 5,488 species. According to a research published in the Journal of Mammalogy in 2018, the number of recognized mammal species is 6,495 species included 96 extinct; the word "mammal" is modern, from the scientific name Mammalia coined by Carl Linnaeus in 1758, derived from the Latin mamma. In an influential 1988 paper, Timothy Rowe defined Mammalia phylogenetically as the crown group of mammals, the clade consisting of the most recent common ancestor of living monotremes and therian m
The Ordovician is a geologic period and system, the second of six periods of the Paleozoic Era. The Ordovician spans 41.2 million years from the end of the Cambrian Period 485.4 million years ago to the start of the Silurian Period 443.8 Mya. The Ordovician, named after the Celtic tribe of the Ordovices, was defined by Charles Lapworth in 1879 to resolve a dispute between followers of Adam Sedgwick and Roderick Murchison, who were placing the same rock beds in northern Wales into the Cambrian and Silurian systems, respectively. Lapworth recognized that the fossil fauna in the disputed strata were different from those of either the Cambrian or the Silurian systems, placed them in a system of their own; the Ordovician received international approval in 1960, when it was adopted as an official period of the Paleozoic Era by the International Geological Congress. Life continued to flourish during the Ordovician as it did in the earlier Cambrian period, although the end of the period was marked by the Ordovician–Silurian extinction events.
Invertebrates, namely molluscs and arthropods, dominated the oceans. The Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event increased the diversity of life. Fish, the world's first true vertebrates, continued to evolve, those with jaws may have first appeared late in the period. Life had yet to diversify on land. About 100 times as many meteorites struck the Earth per year during the Ordovician compared with today; the Ordovician Period began with a major extinction called the Cambrian–Ordovician extinction event, about 485.4 Mya. It lasted for about 42 million years and ended with the Ordovician–Silurian extinction events, about 443.8 Mya which wiped out 60% of marine genera. The dates given are recent radiometric dates and vary from those found in other sources; this second period of the Paleozoic era created abundant fossils that became major petroleum and gas reservoirs. The boundary chosen for the beginning of both the Ordovician Period and the Tremadocian stage is significant, it correlates well with the occurrence of widespread graptolite and trilobite species.
The base of the Tremadocian allows scientists to relate these species not only to each other, but to species that occur with them in other areas. This makes it easier to place many more species in time relative to the beginning of the Ordovician Period. A number of regional terms have been used to subdivide the Ordovician Period. In 2008, the ICS erected a formal international system of subdivisions. There exist Baltoscandic, Siberian, North American, Chinese Mediterranean and North-Gondwanan regional stratigraphic schemes; the Ordovician Period in Britain was traditionally broken into Early and Late epochs. The corresponding rocks of the Ordovician System are referred to as coming from the Lower, Middle, or Upper part of the column; the faunal stages from youngest to oldest are: Late Ordovician Hirnantian/Gamach Rawtheyan/Richmond Cautleyan/Richmond Pusgillian/Maysville/Richmond Middle Ordovician Trenton Onnian/Maysville/Eden Actonian/Eden Marshbrookian/Sherman Longvillian/Sherman Soudleyan/Kirkfield Harnagian/Rockland Costonian/Black River Chazy Llandeilo Whiterock Llanvirn Early Ordovician Cassinian Arenig/Jefferson/Castleman Tremadoc/Deming/Gaconadian The Tremadoc corresponds to the Tremadocian.
The Floian corresponds to the lower Arenig. The Llanvirn occupies the rest of the Darriwilian, terminates with it at the base of the Late Ordovician; the Sandbian represents the first half of the Caradoc. During the Ordovician, the southern continents were collected into Gondwana. Gondwana started the period in equatorial latitudes and, as the period progressed, drifted toward the South Pole. Early in the Ordovician, the continents of Laurentia and Baltica were still independent continents, but Baltica began to move towards Laurentia in the period, causing the Iapetus Ocean between them to shrink; the small continent Avalonia separated from Gondwana and began to move north towards Baltica and Laurentia, opening the Rheic Ocean between Gondwana and Avalonia. The Taconic orogeny, a major mountain-building episode, was well under way in Cambrian times. In the early and middle Ordovician, temperatures were mild, but at the beginning of the Late Ordovician, from 460 to 450 Ma, volcanoes along the margin of the Iapetus Ocean spewed massive amounts of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere, turning the planet into a hothouse.
Sea levels were high, but as Gondwana moved south, ice accumulated into glaciers and sea levels dropped. At first, low-lying sea beds increased diversity, but glaciation led to mass extinctions as the seas drained and continental shelves became dry land. During the Ordovician, in fact during the Tremadocian, marine transgressions worldwide were the greatest for which evidence is preserved; these volcanic island arcs collided with proto North America to form the Appalachian mountains. By the end of the Late Ordovician the volcanic emissions had stopped. Gondwana had by that time neared the South Pole and was glaciated
Whiskers or vibrissae are a type of mammalian hair that are characterised, anatomically, by their long length and well-innervated hair follicle, by having an identifiable representation in the somatosensory cortex of the brain. They are specialised for tactile sensing. Vibrissae grow in various places including all primates except humans. In medicine, the term vibrissae refers to the thick hairs found inside human nostrils. Vibrissae grow in groups in different locations on an animal; these groups are well conserved across land mammals, somewhat less well conserved between land and marine mammals. Species-specific differences are found. Vibrissae of different groups may vary in their anatomical parameters and in their operation, it is assumed that they serve different purposes in accordance with their different locations on the body. Many land mammals, for example rats and hamsters, have an arrangement of cranial vibrissae that includes the supraorbital and mystacial vibrissae, as well as mandibular vibrissae under the snout.
These groups, all of which are visible in the accompanying image of the Patagonian fox, are well conserved across land mammals though anatomical and functional details vary with the animal's lifestyle. Mystacial vibrissae are described as being further divided into two sub-groups: the large macrovibrissae that protrude to the sides and the small microvibrissae below the nostrils that point downwards. Most described, macrovibrissae are large and used for spatial sensing, whereas microvibrissae are small and used for object identification; these two sub-groups can be identified in the accompanying image of the rat, but it can be seen that there is no clear physical boundary between them. This difficulty in delineating the sub-groups visually is reflected by weak boundaries between them in anatomical and functional parameters, though the distinction is nonetheless referred to ubiquitously in scientific literature and is considered useful in analysis. Apart from cranial vibrissae, other groups are found elsewhere on the body.
Many land mammals, including domestic cats have carpal vibrissae on the underside of the leg just above the paws. Whilst these five major groups are reported in studies of land mammals, several other groups have been reported more occasionally. Marine mammals can have different vibrissal arrangements. For instance, cetaceans have lost the vibrissae around the snout and gained vibrissae around their blowholes, whereas every single one of the body hairs of the Florida manatee may be a vibrissa. Other marine mammals have cranial vibrissal groups that appear to correspond to those described for land mammals, although these groups function quite differently; the vibrissal hair is thicker and stiffer than other types of hair but, like other hairs, the shaft consists of an inert material and contains no nerves. However, vibrissae are different from other hair structures because they grow from a special hair follicle incorporating a capsule of blood called a blood sinus, innervated by sensory nerves.
The mystacial macrovibrissae are shared by a large group of land and marine mammals, it is this group that has received by far the most scientific study. The arrangement of these whiskers is not random: they form an ordered grid of arcs and rows, with shorter whiskers at the front and longer whiskers at the rear. In the mouse, hamster, guinea pig and cat, each individual follicle is innervated by 100–200 primary afferent nerve cells; these cells serve an larger number of mechanoreceptors of at least eight distinct types. Accordingly small deflections of the vibrissal hair can evoke a sensory response in the animal. Rats and mice have 30 macrovibrissae on each side of the face, with whisker lengths up to around 50 mm in rats, 30 mm in mice, a larger number of microvibrissae. Thus, an estimate for the total number of sensory nerve cells serving the mystacial vibrissal array on the face of a rat or mouse might be 25,000. Rats and mice are considered to be "whisker specialists", but marine mammals may make greater investment in their vibrissal sensory system.
Seal whiskers, which are arrayed across the mystacial region, are each served by around 10 times as many nerve fibres as those in rats and mice, so that the total number of nerve cells innervating the mystacial vibrissae of a seal has been estimated to be in excess of 300,000. Manatees, have around 600 vibrissae on or around their lips. Whiskers can be long in some species. In species with shorter whiskers, they can be prominent appendages. Thus, whilst whiskers could be described as "proximal sensors" in contrast to, eyes, they offer a tactile sense with a sensing range, functionally significant; the follicles of some groups of vibrissae in some species are motile. The supraorbital and macrovibrissae are motile, whereas the microvibrissae are not; this is reflected in anatomical reports that have identified musculature assoc
Fossilworks is a portal which provides query and analysis tools to facilitate access to the Paleobiology Database, a large relational database assembled by hundreds of paleontologists from around the world. Fossilworks is housed at Macquarie University, it includes many analysis and data visualization tools included in the Paleobiology Database. "Fossilworks". Retrieved 2010-04-08