Dinosaurs have always been a fascination of many people, these creatures have inspired multiple movies, TV shows, and have always been a part of cartoons. Though in all of these we see them in our present times and live on secluded islands and wreak havoc on the humans that visit these places. Fortunately, these mighty creatures have gone extinct thanks to a giant space rock. But since we know that the asteroid changed the geography of our planet immensely this makes us think where exactly on the map did they used to live?
Earth in Mesozoic Era
The time from 250 million years ago to 65 million years ago is known as the Mesozoic Era which comprised of three periods known as the Triassic, Jurrasic, and Cretaceous periods. You might be familiar with the middle of these periods, as it is heavily shown on the television, however, you’d be surprised to know that dinosaurs lived during the previous period as well just not as large in size. The transition from the Paleozoic Era, where everything was full of swamps and giant insects used to dominate the Earth, led to the start of the Mesozoic Era when the large amounts of oxygen levels that were present in the environment started to drop significantly and these giant insects were starved of air. Ultimately, the new era brought new species and they quickly rose to the top of the food chain, these were not reptiles but mammals. Though they did not appear anything like mammals that we know today, they used to dominate the planet. Their rule was short-lived as an extinction event known as the great dying wiped around 80% of the species on the planet.
The Great Dying: Also known as the Permian-Triassic extinction event, this took place around 252 million years, but unlike the extinction event of the dinosaurs the reason behind this is not fully understood. Many speculations have been going around, some suggest that an asteroid may have been responsible for it others speculate that it was due to volcanic eruptions or even excessive methane release from the deep sea. Whatever it may be, we know that this led to the rise of dinosaurs.
During the said time, Earth was nothing like today. Now we have several oceans and breaking them are continents with varied geography and environment. However, during the Mesozoic Era, Earth only had one supercontinent known as Pangaea. This idea of one massive continent was presented first in 1912 by Alfred Wegener, though it is accepted now that it was true, several depictions of the continent have been observed with slight variations. Also, our planet was constantly undergoing several changes so having one depiction of Pangaea cannot be seen as certain and it was this place that dinosaurs lived on.
After the great dying, there were no species that would dominate the food chain, and CO2 levels were approximately four times higher compared to today. This hiked carbon dioxide levels caused plants to grow exponentially in size and in order to consume such large food, herbivorous dinosaurs evolved bigger as well, and so did the predators. This entire phenomenon led them to grow humongous in size and dinosaurs came to rule the planet. As for their habitat, it ranged from rainforests swamps to open dry fields. On the outer parts of the continent, the seasons would’ve been pretty similar to today’s countries like India and Japan, with summers and winters. Near the bottom of the Pangaea, familiar humid climates would’ve been present and most of the dinosaurs as well. As these areas provided huge amounts of plant life so naturally herbivorous and carnivorous animals were present in these locations which are now continents of South America, Africa, and Asia. As for the center of the ancient continent, some rare species of dinosaurs lived in these extreme conditions, as this location was on the equator and temperatures would’ve been extreme.
Though this suggests that dinosaurs only lived in certain areas, then how come we find fossils in other regions as well? That is because, as mentioned previously Pangaea was not constant and Earth may have seen multiple changes to it. Near the end of the Mesozoic Era, the tectonic plates moved and parts of this supercontinent split and would have drifted away or changed their location causing a shift in climate. This led some dinosaurs to migrate in order to find more suitable and hospitable lands, though for how long they migrated is unknown. Ultimately, this caused dinosaurs to travel to other northern areas of the time. However, this migration did not prove to be beneficial and the fate of the dinosaurs was sealed. After their reign of over 165 million years, an asteroid collided with the Earth that caused extreme conditions on the planet leading to the extinction of over 90% of the species, only the ones that were able to hide underground or at great depths of the ocean survived. This event literally froze the planet and shaped its geography.
In the end, it is safe to say that dinosaurs lived in various places with most of them on the move in the final days of the Mesozoic Era.