Life expectancy is a statistical measure of the average time an organism is expected to live, based on the year of its birth, its current age and other demographic factors including gender. The most used measure of life expectancy is at birth, which can be defined in two ways. Cohort LEB is the mean length of life of an actual birth cohort and can be computed only for cohorts born many decades ago, so that all their members have died. Period LEB is the mean length of life of a hypothetical cohort assumed to be exposed, from birth through death, to the mortality rates observed at a given year. National LEB figures reported by statistical national agencies and international organizations are indeed estimates of period LEB. In the Bronze Age and the Iron Age, LEB was 26 years. For recent years, LEB in Swaziland is about 49, while LEB in Japan is about 83; the combination of high infant mortality and deaths in young adulthood from accidents, plagues and childbirth before modern medicine was available lowers LEB.
For example, a society with a LEB of 40 may have few people dying at 40: most will die before 30 or after 55. In populations with high infant mortality rates, LEB is sensitive to the rate of death in the first few years of life; because of this sensitivity to infant mortality, LEB can be subjected to gross misinterpretation, leading one to believe that a population with a low LEB will have a small proportion of older people. Another measure, such as life expectancy at age 5, can be used to exclude the effect of infant mortality to provide a simple measure of overall mortality rates other than in early childhood. Aggregate population measures, such as the proportion of the population in various age groups, should be used along individual-based measures like formal life expectancy when analyzing population structure and dynamics. However, pre-modern societies still had universally higher mortality rates and universally lower life expectancies at every age for both genders, this example was rare.
In societies with life expectancies of 30, for instance, a 40 year remaining timespan at age 5 may not be uncommon, but a 60 year one was. Mathematically, life expectancy is the mean number of years of life remaining at a given age, assuming age-specific mortality rates remain at their most measured levels, it is denoted by e x, which means the mean number of subsequent years of life for someone now aged x, according to a particular mortality experience. Longevity, maximum lifespan, life expectancy are not synonyms. Life expectancy is defined statistically as the mean number of years remaining for an individual or a group of people at a given age. Longevity refers to the characteristics of the long life span of some members of a population. Maximum lifespan is the age at death for the longest-lived individual of a species. Moreover, because life expectancy is an average, a particular person may die many years before or many years after the "expected" survival; the term "maximum life span" is more related to longevity.
Life expectancy is used in plant or animal ecology. The term life expectancy may be used in the context of manufactured objects, but the related term shelf life is used for consumer products, the terms "mean time to breakdown" and "mean time between failures" are used in engineering. Records of human lifespan above age 100 are susceptible to errors. For example, the previous world-record holder for human lifespan, Carrie White, was uncovered as a simple typographic error after more than two decades. Therefore, the capacity for equivalent hidden errors make maximum lifespan records dubious; the oldest confirmed recorded age for any human is 122 years, reached by Jeanne Calment who lived between 1875 and 1997. This is referred to as the "maximum life span", the upper boundary of life, the maximum number of years any human is known to have lived. A theoretical study shows that the maximum life expectancy at birth is limited by the human life characteristic value δ, around 104 years. According to a study by biologists Bryan G. Hughes and Siegfried Hekimi, there is no evidence for limit on human lifespan.
However, this view has been questioned on the basis of error patterns. The following information is derived from the 1961 Encyclopædia Britannica and other sources, some with questionable accuracy. Unless otherwise stated, it represents estimates of the life expectancies of the world population as a whole. In many instances, life expectancy varied according to class and gender. Life expectancy at birth takes account of infant mortality but not prenatal mortality. Life expectancy increases with age as the individual survives the higher mortality rates associated with childhood. For instance, the table above listed the life expectancy at birth among 13th-century English nobles at 30. Having survived until the age of 21, a male member of the English aristocracy in this period could expect to live: 1200–1300: to age 64 1300–1400: to age 45 1400–1500: to age 69 1500–1550: to age 71In a similar way, the life expectancy of scholars in the Medieval Islamic world was 59–84.3 years.17th-century English life expectancy was only about 35 years because infant and child mortality remained high.
Life expectancy was under 25 years in the early Colony of Virginia, in seventeenth-century New England, about 40 percent died befor
The Triassic is a geologic period and system which spans 50.6 million years from the end of the Permian Period 251.9 million years ago, to the beginning of the Jurassic Period 201.3 Mya. The Triassic is the shortest period of the Mesozoic Era. Both the start and end of the period are marked by major extinction events. Triassic began in the wake of the Permian–Triassic extinction event, which left the Earth's biosphere impoverished. Therapsids and archosaurs were the chief terrestrial vertebrates during this time. A specialized subgroup of archosaurs, called dinosaurs, first appeared in the Late Triassic but did not become dominant until the succeeding Jurassic Period; the first true mammals, themselves a specialized subgroup of therapsids evolved during this period, as well as the first flying vertebrates, the pterosaurs, like the dinosaurs, were a specialized subgroup of archosaurs. The vast supercontinent of Pangaea existed until the mid-Triassic, after which it began to rift into two separate landmasses, Laurasia to the north and Gondwana to the south.
The global climate during the Triassic was hot and dry, with deserts spanning much of Pangaea's interior. However, the climate became more humid as Pangaea began to drift apart; the end of the period was marked by yet another major mass extinction, the Triassic–Jurassic extinction event, that wiped out many groups and allowed dinosaurs to assume dominance in the Jurassic. The Triassic was named in 1834 by Friedrich von Alberti, after the three distinct rock layers that are found throughout Germany and northwestern Europe—red beds, capped by marine limestone, followed by a series of terrestrial mud- and sandstones—called the "Trias"; the Triassic is separated into Early and Late Triassic Epochs, the corresponding rocks are referred to as Lower, Middle, or Upper Triassic. The faunal stages from the youngest to oldest are: During the Triassic all the Earth's land mass was concentrated into a single supercontinent centered more or less on the equator and spanning from pole to pole, called Pangaea.
From the east, along the equator, the Tethys sea penetrated Pangaea, causing the Paleo-Tethys Ocean to be closed. In the mid-Triassic a similar sea penetrated along the equator from the west; the remaining shores were surrounded by the world-ocean known as Panthalassa. All the deep-ocean sediments laid down during the Triassic have disappeared through subduction of oceanic plates; the supercontinent Pangaea was rifting during the Triassic—especially late in that period—but had not yet separated. The first nonmarine sediments in the rift that marks the initial break-up of Pangaea, which separated New Jersey from Morocco, are of Late Triassic age. S. these thick sediments comprise the Newark Group. Because a super-continental mass has less shoreline compared to one broken up, Triassic marine deposits are globally rare, despite their prominence in Western Europe, where the Triassic was first studied. In North America, for example, marine deposits are limited to a few exposures in the west, thus Triassic stratigraphy is based on organisms that lived in lagoons and hypersaline environments, such as Estheria crustaceans.
At the beginning of the Mesozoic Era, Africa was joined with Earth's other continents in Pangaea. Africa shared the supercontinent's uniform fauna, dominated by theropods and primitive ornithischians by the close of the Triassic period. Late Triassic fossils are more common in the south than north; the time boundary separating the Permian and Triassic marks the advent of an extinction event with global impact, although African strata from this time period have not been studied. During the Triassic peneplains are thought to have formed in what is now southern Sweden. Remnants of this peneplain can be traced as a tilted summit accordance in the Swedish West Coast. In northern Norway Triassic peneplains may have been buried in sediments to be re-exposed as coastal plains called strandflats. Dating of illite clay from a strandflat of Bømlo, southern Norway, have shown that landscape there became weathered in Late Triassic times with the landscape also being shaped during that time. At Paleorrota geopark, located in Rio Grande do Sul, the Santa Maria Formation and Caturrita Formations are exposed.
In these formations, one of the earliest dinosaurs, Staurikosaurus, as well as the mammal ancestors Brasilitherium and Brasilodon have been discovered. The Triassic continental interior climate was hot and dry, so that typical deposits are red bed sandstones and evaporites. There is no evidence of glaciation near either pole. Pangaea's large size limited the moderating effect of the global ocean; the strong contrast between the Pangea supercontinent and the global ocean triggered intense cross-equatorial monsoons. The Triassic may have been a dry period, but evidence exists that it was punctuated by several episodes of increased rainfall in tropical and subtropical latitudes of the Tethys Sea and its surrounding land. Sediments and fossils suggestive of a more humid climate are known from the Anisian to Ladinian of the Tethysian domain, from the Carnian and Rhaetian of a larger area that includes the Boreal domain, the North
Insects or Insecta are hexapod invertebrates and the largest group within the arthropod phylum. Definitions and circumscriptions vary; as used here, the term Insecta is synonymous with Ectognatha. Insects have a chitinous exoskeleton, a three-part body, three pairs of jointed legs, compound eyes and one pair of antennae. Insects are the most diverse group of animals; the total number of extant species is estimated at between ten million. Insects may be found in nearly all environments, although only a small number of species reside in the oceans, which are dominated by another arthropod group, crustaceans. Nearly all insects hatch from eggs. Insect growth is constrained by the inelastic exoskeleton and development involves a series of molts; the immature stages differ from the adults in structure and habitat, can include a passive pupal stage in those groups that undergo four-stage metamorphosis. Insects that undergo three-stage metamorphosis lack a pupal stage and adults develop through a series of nymphal stages.
The higher level relationship of the insects is unclear. Fossilized insects of enormous size have been found from the Paleozoic Era, including giant dragonflies with wingspans of 55 to 70 cm; the most diverse insect groups appear to have coevolved with flowering plants. Adult insects move about by walking, flying, or sometimes swimming; as it allows for rapid yet stable movement, many insects adopt a tripedal gait in which they walk with their legs touching the ground in alternating triangles, composed of the front & rear on one side with the middle on the other side. Insects are the only invertebrates to have evolved flight, all flying insects derive from one common ancestor. Many insects spend at least part of their lives under water, with larval adaptations that include gills, some adult insects are aquatic and have adaptations for swimming; some species, such as water striders, are capable of walking on the surface of water. Insects are solitary, but some, such as certain bees and termites, are social and live in large, well-organized colonies.
Some insects, such as earwigs, show maternal care, guarding their eggs and young. Insects can communicate with each other in a variety of ways. Male moths can sense the pheromones of female moths over great distances. Other species communicate with sounds: crickets stridulate, or rub their wings together, to attract a mate and repel other males. Lampyrid beetles communicate with light. Humans regard certain insects as pests, attempt to control them using insecticides, a host of other techniques; some insects damage crops by feeding on sap, fruits, or wood. Some species are parasitic, may vector diseases; some insects perform complex ecological roles. Insect pollinators are essential to the life cycle of many flowering plant species on which most organisms, including humans, are at least dependent. Many insects are considered ecologically beneficial as predators and a few provide direct economic benefit. Silkworms produce silk and honey bees produce honey and both have been domesticated by humans.
Insects are consumed as food in 80% of the world's nations, by people in 3000 ethnic groups. Human activities have effects on insect biodiversity; the word "insect" comes from the Latin word insectum, meaning "with a notched or divided body", or "cut into", from the neuter singular perfect passive participle of insectare, "to cut into, to cut up", from in- "into" and secare "to cut". A calque of Greek ἔντομον, "cut into sections", Pliny the Elder introduced the Latin designation as a loan-translation of the Greek word ἔντομος or "insect", Aristotle's term for this class of life in reference to their "notched" bodies. "Insect" first appears documented in English in 1601 in Holland's translation of Pliny. Translations of Aristotle's term form the usual word for "insect" in Welsh, Serbo-Croatian, etc; the precise definition of the taxon Insecta and the equivalent English name "insect" varies. In the broadest circumscription, Insecta sensu lato consists of all hexapods. Traditionally, insects defined in this way were divided into "Apterygota" —the wingless insects—and Pterygota—the winged insects.
However, modern phylogenetic studies have shown that "Apterygota" is not monophyletic, so does not form a good taxon. A narrower circumscription restricts insects to those hexapods with external mouthparts, comprises only the last three groups in the table. In this sense, Insecta sensu stricto is equivalent to Ectognatha. In the narrowest circumscription, insects are restricted to hexapods that are either winged or descended from winged ancestors. Insecta sensu strictissimo is equivalent to Pterygota. For the purposes of this article, the middle definition is used; the evolutionary relationship of insects to other animal groups remains unclear. Although traditionally grouped with millipedes and centiped
Arboreal locomotion is the locomotion of animals in trees. In habitats in which trees are present, animals have evolved to move in them; some animals may scale trees only but others are arboreal. The habitats pose numerous mechanical challenges to animals moving through them and lead to a variety of anatomical and ecological consequences as well as variations throughout different species. Furthermore, many of these same principles may be applied to climbing without trees, such as on rock piles or mountains; the earliest known tetrapod with specializations that adapted it for climbing trees was Suminia, a synapsid of the late Permian, about 260 million years ago. Some animals are arboreal in habitat, such as the tree snail. Arboreal habitats pose numerous mechanical challenges to animals moving in them, which have been solved in diverse ways; these challenges include moving on narrow branches, moving up and down inclines, crossing gaps, dealing with obstructions. Moving along a narrow surface poses special difficulties to animals.
During locomotion on the ground, the location of the center of mass may swing from side to side, but during arboreal locomotion, this would result in the center of mass moving beyond the edge of the branch, resulting in a tendency to topple over. Additionally, foot placement is constrained by the need to make contact with the narrow branch; this narrowness restricts the range of movements and postures an animal can use to move. Branches are oriented at an angle to gravity in arboreal habitats, including being vertical, which poses special problems; as an animal moves up an inclined branch, they must fight the force of gravity to raise their body, making the movement more difficult. Conversely, as the animal descends, it must fight gravity to control its descent and prevent falling. Descent can be problematic for many animals, arboreal species have specialized methods for controlling their descent. Due to the height of many branches and the disastrous consequences of a fall, balance is of primary importance to arboreal animals.
On horizontal and sloped branches, the primary problem is tipping to the side due to the narrow base of support. The narrower the branch, the greater the difficulty in balancing a given animal faces. On steep and vertical branches, tipping becomes less of an issue, pitching backwards or slipping downwards becomes the most failure. In this case, large-diameter branches pose a greater challenge since the animal cannot place its forelimbs closer to the center of the branch than its hindlimbs. Branches are not continuous, any arboreal animal must be able to move between gaps in the branches, or between trees; this can be accomplished by gliding between them. Arboreal habitats contain many obstructions, both in the form of branches emerging from the one being moved on and other branches impinging on the space the animal needs to move through; these obstructions may be used as additional contact points to enhance it. While obstructions tend to impede limbed animals, they benefit snakes by providing anchor points.
Arboreal organisms display many specializations for dealing with the mechanical challenges of moving through their habitats. Arboreal animals have elongated limbs that help them cross gaps, reach fruit or other resources, test the firmness of support ahead, in some cases, to brachiate. However, some species of lizard have reduced limb size that helps them avoid limb movement being obstructed by impinging branches. Many arboreal species, such as tree porcupines, green tree pythons, emerald tree boas, silky anteaters, spider monkeys, possums, use prehensile tails to grasp branches. In the spider monkey and crested gecko, the tip of the tail has either a bare patch or adhesive pad, which provide increased friction. Claws can be used to interact with rough substrates and re-orient the direction of forces the animal applies; this is what allows squirrels to climb tree trunks that are so large as to be flat, from the perspective of such a small animal. However, claws can interfere with an animal's ability to grasp small branches, as they may wrap too far around and prick the animal's own paw.
Adhesion is an alternative to claws. Wet adhesion is common in tree frogs and arboreal salamanders, functions either by suction or by capillary adhesion. Dry adhesion is best typified by the specialized toes of geckos, which use van der Waals forces to adhere to many substrates glass. Frictional gripping is used by primates. Squeezing the branch between the fingertips generates a frictional force that holds the animal's hand to the branch. However, this type of grip depends upon the angle of the frictional force, thus upon the diameter of the branch, with larger branches resulting in reduced gripping ability. Animals other than primates that use gripping in climbing include the chameleon, which has mitten-like grasping feet, many birds that grip branches in perching or moving about. To control descent down large diameter branches, some arboreal animals such as squirrels have evolved mobile ankle joints that permit rotating the foot into a'reversed' posture; this allows the claws to hook into the rough surface of the bark.
Many arboreal species lower their center of mass to reduce pitching and toppling movement when climbing. This may be accomplished by altered body proportions, or smaller size. Small size provides many advantages to arboreal species: such as increasing the relative size of branches
The Devonian is a geologic period and system of the Paleozoic, spanning 60 million years from the end of the Silurian, 419.2 million years ago, to the beginning of the Carboniferous, 358.9 Mya. It is named after Devon, where rocks from this period were first studied; the first significant adaptive radiation of life on dry land occurred during the Devonian. Free-sporing vascular plants began to spread across dry land, forming extensive forests which covered the continents. By the middle of the Devonian, several groups of plants had evolved leaves and true roots, by the end of the period the first seed-bearing plants appeared. Various terrestrial arthropods became well-established. Fish reached substantial diversity during this time, leading the Devonian to be dubbed the "Age of Fishes." The first ray-finned and lobe-finned bony fish appeared, while the placoderms began dominating every known aquatic environment. The ancestors of all four-limbed vertebrates began adapting to walking on land, as their strong pectoral and pelvic fins evolved into legs.
In the oceans, primitive sharks became more numerous than in the Late Ordovician. The first ammonites, species of molluscs, appeared. Trilobites, the mollusc-like brachiopods and the great coral reefs, were still common; the Late Devonian extinction which started about 375 million years ago affected marine life, killing off all placodermi, all trilobites, save for a few species of the order Proetida. The palaeogeography was dominated by the supercontinent of Gondwana to the south, the continent of Siberia to the north, the early formation of the small continent of Euramerica in between; the period is named after Devon, a county in southwestern England, where a controversial argument in the 1830s over the age and structure of the rocks found distributed throughout the county was resolved by the definition of the Devonian period in the geological timescale. The Great Devonian Controversy was a long period of vigorous argument and counter-argument between the main protagonists of Roderick Murchison with Adam Sedgwick against Henry De la Beche supported by George Bellas Greenough.
Murchison and Sedgwick named the period they proposed as the Devonian System. While the rock beds that define the start and end of the Devonian period are well identified, the exact dates are uncertain. According to the International Commission on Stratigraphy, the Devonian extends from the end of the Silurian 419.2 Mya, to the beginning of the Carboniferous 358.9 Mya. In nineteenth-century texts the Devonian has been called the "Old Red Age", after the red and brown terrestrial deposits known in the United Kingdom as the Old Red Sandstone in which early fossil discoveries were found. Another common term is "Age of the Fishes", referring to the evolution of several major groups of fish that took place during the period. Older literature on the Anglo-Welsh basin divides it into the Downtonian, Dittonian and Farlovian stages, the latter three of which are placed in the Devonian; the Devonian has erroneously been characterised as a "greenhouse age", due to sampling bias: most of the early Devonian-age discoveries came from the strata of western Europe and eastern North America, which at the time straddled the Equator as part of the supercontinent of Euramerica where fossil signatures of widespread reefs indicate tropical climates that were warm and moderately humid but in fact the climate in the Devonian differed during its epochs and between geographic regions.
For example, during the Early Devonian, arid conditions were prevalent through much of the world including Siberia, North America, China, but Africa and South America had a warm temperate climate. In the Late Devonian, by contrast, arid conditions were less prevalent across the world and temperate climates were more common; the Devonian Period is formally broken into Early and Late subdivisions. The rocks corresponding to those epochs are referred to as belonging to the Lower and Upper parts of the Devonian System. Early DevonianThe Early Devonian lasted from 419.2 ± 2.8 to 393.3 ± 2.5 and began with the Lochkovian stage, which lasted until the Pragian. It spanned from 410.8 ± 2.8 to 407.6 ± 2.5, was followed by the Emsian, which lasted until the Middle Devonian began, 393.3± 2.7 million years ago. During this time, the first ammonoids appeared. Ammonoids during this time period differed little from their nautiloid counterparts; these ammonoids belong to the order Agoniatitida, which in epochs evolved to new ammonoid orders, for example Goniatitida and Clymeniida.
This class of cephalopod molluscs would dominate the marine fauna until the beginning of the Mesozoic era. Middle DevonianThe Middle Devonian comprised two subdivisions: first the Eifelian, which gave way to the Givetian 387.7± 2.7 million years ago. During this time the jawless agnathan fishes began to decline in diversity in freshwater and marine environments due to drastic environmental changes and due to the increasing competition and diversity of jawed fishes; the shallow, oxygen-depleted waters of Devonian inland lakes, surrounded by primitive plants, provided the environment necessary for certain early fish to develop such essential characteristics as well developed lungs, the ability to crawl out of the water and onto the land for short periods of time. Late DevonianFinally, the Late Devonian started with the Frasnian, 382.7 ± 2.8 to 372.2 ± 2.5, during which the first forests took shape on land. The first tetrapods appeared in the fossil record in the ensuing Famennian subdivisi
The Silurian is a geologic period and system spanning 24.6 million years from the end of the Ordovician Period, at 443.8 million years ago, to the beginning of the Devonian Period, 419.2 Mya. The Silurian is the shortest period of the Paleozoic Era; as with other geologic periods, the rock beds that define the period's start and end are well identified, but the exact dates are uncertain by several million years. The base of the Silurian is set at a series of major Ordovician–Silurian extinction events when 60% of marine species were wiped out. A significant evolutionary milestone during the Silurian was the diversification of jawed fish and bony fish. Multi-cellular life began to appear on land in the form of small, bryophyte-like and vascular plants that grew beside lakes and coastlines, terrestrial arthropods are first found on land during the Silurian. However, terrestrial life would not diversify and affect the landscape until the Devonian; the Silurian system was first identified by British geologist Roderick Murchison, examining fossil-bearing sedimentary rock strata in south Wales in the early 1830s.
He named the sequences for a Celtic tribe of Wales, the Silures, inspired by his friend Adam Sedgwick, who had named the period of his study the Cambrian, from the Latin name for Wales. This naming does not indicate any correlation between the occurrence of the Silurian rocks and the land inhabited by the Silures. In 1835 the two men presented a joint paper, under the title On the Silurian and Cambrian Systems, Exhibiting the Order in which the Older Sedimentary Strata Succeed each other in England and Wales, the germ of the modern geological time scale; as it was first identified, the "Silurian" series when traced farther afield came to overlap Sedgwick's "Cambrian" sequence, provoking furious disagreements that ended the friendship. Charles Lapworth resolved the conflict by defining a new Ordovician system including the contested beds. An early alternative name for the Silurian was "Gotlandian" after the strata of the Baltic island of Gotland; the French geologist Joachim Barrande, building on Murchison's work, used the term Silurian in a more comprehensive sense than was justified by subsequent knowledge.
He divided the Silurian rocks of Bohemia into eight stages. His interpretation was questioned in 1854 by Edward Forbes, the stages of Barrande, F, G and H, have since been shown to be Devonian. Despite these modifications in the original groupings of the strata, it is recognized that Barrande established Bohemia as a classic ground for the study of the earliest fossils; the Llandovery Epoch lasted from 443.8 ± 1.5 to 433.4 ± 2.8 mya, is subdivided into three stages: the Rhuddanian, lasting until 440.8 million years ago, the Aeronian, lasting to 438.5 million years ago, the Telychian. The epoch is named for the town of Llandovery in Wales; the Wenlock, which lasted from 433.4 ± 1.5 to 427.4 ± 2.8 mya, is subdivided into the Sheinwoodian and Homerian ages. It is named after Wenlock Edge in England. During the Wenlock, the oldest-known tracheophytes of the genus Cooksonia, appear; the complexity of later Gondwana plants like Baragwanathia, which resembled a modern clubmoss, indicates a much longer history for vascular plants, extending into the early Silurian or Ordovician.
The first terrestrial animals appear in the Wenlock, represented by air-breathing millipedes from Scotland. The Ludlow, lasting from 427.4 ± 1.5 to 423 ± 2.8 mya, comprises the Gorstian stage, lasting until 425.6 million years ago, the Ludfordian stage. It is named for the town of Ludlow in England; the Přídolí, lasting from 423 ± 1.5 to 419.2 ± 2.8 mya, is the final and shortest epoch of the Silurian. It is named after one locality at the Homolka a Přídolí nature reserve near the Prague suburb Slivenec in the Czech Republic. Přídolí is the old name of a cadastral field area. In North America a different suite of regional stages is sometimes used: Cayugan Lockportian Tonawandan Ontarian Alexandrian In Estonia the following suite of regional stages is used: Ohessaare stage Kaugatuma stage Kuressaare stage Paadla stage Rootsiküla stage Jaagarahu stage Jaani stage Adavere stage Raikküla stage Juuru stage With the supercontinent Gondwana covering the equator and much of the southern hemisphere, a large ocean occupied most of the northern half of the globe.
The high sea levels of the Silurian and the flat land resulted in a number of island chains, thus a rich diversity of environmental settings. During the Silurian, Gondwana continued a slow southward drift to high southern latitudes, but there is evidence that the Silurian icecaps were less extensive than those of the late-Ordovician glaciation; the southern continents remained united during this period. The melting of icecaps and glaciers contributed to a rise in sea level, recognizable from the fact that Silurian sediments overlie eroded Ordovician sediments, forming an unconformity; the continents of Avalonia and Laurentia drifted together near the equator, starting the formation of a second supercontinent known as Euramerica. When the proto-Europe coll
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