The Official Student Newspaper of Tarleton State University since 1919

the JTAC

The Official Student Newspaper of Tarleton State University since 1919

the JTAC

The Official Student Newspaper of Tarleton State University since 1919

the JTAC


History throughout the eras

It is hard to imagine huge reptilian creatures roaming the earth today. Ones with large scales and razor sharp teeth, some with feathers and hollow bones, and some with fins and gills. Even in everyday life, we do not realize the birds we see today might have evolved from the dinosaurs long ago.

The age of dinosaurs was known as the Mesozoic Era, the middle period of life after one of the major extinction events occurred. This period is separated into the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous periods, which lasted roughly 186 million years.

The Triassic Period began after one of the most devastating mass extinction events, known as the Great Dying. The Great Dying was theorized to be caused by asteroid impacts or massive volcanic eruptions that wiped out most vegetation and animal life around it. 

The Triassic Period reestablished new life after mass extinction. After the land began to restore itself with new vegetation and biomes, forests began to give way to large plains. Water amphibians such as frogs, newts, and salamanders began to slowly evolve to traverse the land. The dinosaurs of this era grew legs to travel over biomes, while still having a resemblance to the marine-like fish and lizards it evolved from.

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Unfortunately, the Triassic Period was brought to an abrupt end due to another mass extinction, thought to be caused by massive, eruptive volcanic activity underwater. The Jurassic Period was a time of great change and reinstating homeostasis in the environment. This was around the time Pangea, a huge supercontinent consisting of the seven continents we know today, was still fully formed. The splitting of Pangea caused huge diversity between mammals and aquatic creatures. 

The diverse environments in which lizards and reptiles, like alligators and crocodiles, slowly evolved into some of the famous dinosaurs we know today, such as the Tyrannosaurus Rex, Triceratops, and Velociraptors.

Dinosaur fossils were first discovered in 1677, when Robert Plot discovered a part of a large femur that he had thought belonged to a giant human skeleton. It was only in 1824 that William Buckland at Oxford rediscovered Plot’s findings, and dubbed it as the creature known as Megalosaurus. He thought the creature was a large lizard, but the term dinosaur was only coined by Richard Owen in 1842. Ironically, the term dinosaur uses the Greek combination of ‘deinos’ meaning terrible, and ‘sauros’ meaning lizard. These huge, terribly terrifying lizards were a shock to scientists once they realized multiple species and different genus once walked the Earth as they have.

After the initial discovery and categorization of dinosaurs, a huge wave of scientists and researchers began actively looking and researching dinosaur bones found by scientists. They began by comparing the structures of the known Megalosaurus to other fossils found, where eventually different dinosaurs were discovered in the early 19th century.

Now we have nothing but the remains of fossils and skeletons of these amazing creatures to marvel at. Scientists and researchers have worked hard to preserve such amazing specimens of dinosaurs. What we do not realize is that modern day dinosaurs have survived, albeit they look very different from the huge scaled reptilians we know from history. Birds, crocodiles, snakes, sharks, and other marine animals possess  a deep history from their predecessors before their mass extinction.

These creatures have survived millenia of evolution and adaptation to be recognized today, and it is amazing that once, large creatures roamed the same Earth as we have, in a much simpler time period. 

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