Triassic-Jurassic extinction Archives - State of the Planet

In Ancient Rocks, Scientists See a Climate Cycle Working Across Deep Time

A gradual shift in Earth’s orbit that repeats every 405,000 years plays a role in natural climate swings.

by |May 7, 2018

Amid a Fossil Bonanza, Drilling Deep into Pre-Dinosaurian Rocks

On a high ridge in Arizona’s Petrified Forest National Park, paleontologist Paul Olsen sits on the fallen trunk of a 215-million-year-old tree, now turned to stone. The tree once loomed 70 or 80 feet above a riverine landscape teeming with fish, turtles, giant crocodilians and tiny, early species of dinosaurs.

by |April 29, 2014

Photo Essay: Unearthing the Lost World Below a Petrified Forest

In Arizona’s Petrified Forest National Park, researchers are scouring the fossil-rich surface and drilling deep into ancient rocks to learn what happened during the late Triassic, some 201 million to 235 million years ago.

by |April 29, 2014

Seeking the Deadly Roots of the Dinosaurs’ Ascent

Over the past 450 million years, life on earth has undergone at least five great extinctions, when biological activity nosedived and dominant groups of creatures disappeared. The final one (so far) was 65 million years ago, when it appears that a giant meteorite brought fires, shock waves and tsunamis, then drastically altered the climate. That killed off… read more

by |August 17, 2012

Along an Ancient Coast, Clues to a Global Extinction

Wave-washed sea cliffs along the coasts of western England and Wales are home to spectacular assemblages of rocks and fossils that may hold keys to understanding a sudden global extinction 201.4 million years ago that cleared the way for the rapid evolution of dinosaurs. Paleontologist Paul Olsen and geologist Dennis Kent of Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty… read more

by |August 17, 2012

The Triassic and Today: Hinge Points in Earth’s History

Paleontologist Paul Olsen has been investigating the causes of Triassic-Jurassic extinction–a turning point in earth’s history that wiped out many life forms and started the reign of dinosaurs. More than 200 million years separate us from this catastrophe (also called the End-Triassic Extinction), but it could contain some lessons for us today, says Olsen.  For one, it may have been… read more

by |August 17, 2012

Drilling into the Jurassic in New Jersey

One hour from New York City, where the suburbs of New Jersey give way to farms, a team of scientists are drilling for ancient rocks on the edge of a cornfield. The rocks hold clues about what the earth was like about 201 million years ago,during the great extinction that allowed dinosaurs to dominate. Listen… read more

by |August 17, 2012