Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Hi! Ready for a trip around the Carboniferous period?


The Carboniferous is a period in the history of the Earth during the Phanenozoic eon, exactly in the Palaeozoic era. It extends from the end of the Devonian period, about 359.2 ± 2.5 Mya, until the beginning of the Permian period, about 299.0 ± 0.8 Mya. The name Carboniferous comes from the Latin word carbo, which means coal. This is because during this period many coal beds containing coal balls were laid down globally.
The Earth at the Carboniferous period
 This period is characterized by the huge forests which dominate most of the land. During this period the great tectonic activity, made the plates continuing his approximation forming the posterior Pangea II.  The climate during the Carboniferous was warm until the end of it, when the climate cools down, there was a huge glaciation process which led to the Carboniferous Rainforest Collapse.

 Plants and trees dominate this period some examples were:

  • Lepidodendron: It was part of the coal forest flora. They reached the 40 meters long and a trunk with more than one meter of diameter. Lepidodendron had tall, thick trunks that rarely branched and were topped with a crown of bifurcating branches bearing clusters of leaves. The branches of this plant ended in cone-structures. They grew in dense stands, likely having as many as 1000 to 2000 giant club mosses per hectare. 

  • Calamites: They were a plant, tree like, very similar to the nowadays horse tail plants. They reach the 30 meters tall and had a bamboo like trunk. The branches, leaves and cones were all borne in whorls, the leaves were needle-shaped and its trunk and stems were hollow, like wooden tubes. The habitat of this trees was in higher zones like mountains. 

    • Ferns with seeds: lower levels were a weed mainly constituted by a wide variety of ferns, and ferns with seeds although some also were large and tree-like. Glossopteris, who lived in Highlands, was very abundant in Gondwanaland. Their fossils are common in river sediments.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

    • Cordaitales: Is a group of tall trees of 30 meters. They are related to the gymnosperms living in Highlands and probably formed large forests similar to the modern. 


      Amphibians were the dominant land vertebrates, of which one branch would eventually evolve into reptiles, the first fully terrestrial vertebrates. Arthropods were also very common together with the first genus of sharks.           

    • Meganeura: Is an insect related to the present-day dragonflies. With wingspans of more than 75 cm (2.5 ft), M. monyi is one of the largest known flying insect species. Meganeura were predatory, and fed on other insects, and even small amphibians.     

    •  Pulmonoscorpius: Is a giant species of extinct scorpion. In life, this species grew to 70 centimeters. In the diet of Pulmonoscorpius arthropods may have formed part of its diet, and its sting may have been able to fell small tetrapods.        

    • Petrolacosaurus: It was a small, 40-centimetre (16 in) long, reptile, and the earliest diapsid known. His diet consist mainly of small insects.            
    • Ctenospondylus: It was a pelycosaur that was about 3 meters. It lived from Latest Carboniferous. Due to his size it could be the apex predator in his environment. It had a long tail, short back spines, and a very deep yet narrow skull with massive jaws that had sharp teeth.

    • Pederpes: Is the most basal Carboniferous tetrapod. It had  a large, somewhat triangular head and it was about 1 meter long he shape of the skull and the fact that the feet face forward rather than outward indicate that Pederpes was well adapted to land life.