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Dolomites > The formation of the Dolomites > The greatest climate catastrophe

The greatest climate catastrophe an the beginning of a new world

Beginning of a new world251 million years ago took place the greatest climate catastrophe of all time. Between the Permian and the Triassic, the animal and plant world experienced one of its most serious crises. More than 90% of life forms were affected and became extinct. We can only guess at the causes: some suggest the fall of a meteorite, others powerful volcanic eruptions that caused strong cooling and consequently adverse living conditions. This mass extinction did not affect all living creatures to the same extent. Some groups disappeared forever, while others took advantage of niches that had become free. The winners of this crisis still represent life on earth today. In few other places in the world can this catastrophe between the Permian and the Triassic be followed so vividly as in the Dolomites. Living creatures adapted only gradually to the changed environmental conditions.

241 million years ago: the beginning of a new world

Life began to change completely. In rapid succession, new plants and new animals were modified, separated and formed new species and new genera. The supercontinent of Pangea began to break up. In the heart of this tropical landscape of one of the richest and most mysterious plant and animal kingdoms of ancient times. New research has brought to light surprising information: the Dolomites preserve the origins of many of today’s plants.

DinosaurVery often were small iguana-like reptiles called rhynchosaurs harmless herbivores, which nourished of horsetails, ferns and cycads. The discovery of a small reptile - Megachirella wachtleri - by Michael Wachtler in 2001 in the Braies Dolomites was a worldwide sensation. It is a forerunner of today’s lizards, iguanas and snakes. In this period known as the Anisian, a new group of archosaurs positioned their rear feet more and more vertically under their body, thus beginning to stand on two feet with the result that the front feet became atrophied. The Parasphingopus, whose footprints were found for the first time by Michael Wachtler on the Piz da Peres, is regarded as a forerunner of the dinosaur.

Other usefull links about the genesis of the Dolomites:
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, offers many interesting information about the Triassic and the rhynchosaurs .


Foto: Michael Wachtler

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