Why Triassic Animals Were Just the Weirdest

  • Published: 06 June 2018
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    The Triassic was full of creatures that look a lot like other, more modern species, even though they’re not closely related at all. The reason for this has to do with how evolution works and with the timing of the Triassic itself: when life was trapped between two mass extinctions.

    Thanks to Ceri Thomas for the Drepanosaurus reconstruction. Check out more of Ceri's paleoart at alphynix.tumblr.com and nixillustration.com

    And thanks as always to Nobumichi Tamura for allowing us to use his wonderful paleoart: spinops.blogspot.com/

    Finally, thanks to Emilio Rolandia, Matt Celeskey, and Studio 252mya for their excellent images as well.

    Produced in collaboration with PBS Digital Studios: superiorjanitorial.pro/user/pbsdigitalstudios

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    Original description of Triopticus with a description of repeated bodyplans and lifestyles of Triassic and later Mesozoic animals cell.com/current-biology/abstract/S0960-9822(16)30860-0
    Original description of Shringasaurus with discussion of allokotosaur evolution
    Original description of Avicranium with a discussion of drepanosaurids
    An earlier phylogenetic analysis of drepanosaurs with discussion of their likely habits in life
    A very thorough, but fairly technical discussion of adaptive radiations (including those triggered by extinctions) can be found in chapters 4, 5, and 10 of:
    Stanley, SM. 1979. Macroevolution: Pattern and Process. John Hopkins University Press.
    ISBN 0-8018-5735-X
  • Science and Technology Science and Technology

Comments • 2 288

  • Thename123J
    Thename123J  2 hours back

    Stop saying niches like that

    • Philip Turner
      Philip Turner  8 hours back

      Carbon dioxide never has, does not and never will cause climate change. This is well known now. Climate change is caused by a multitude of natural factors, and carbon dioxide is NOT the control knob.

      • Lloyd McKay
        Lloyd McKay  10 hours back

        They've got it all figured out,have they?

        • ThatOneGuy _02
          ThatOneGuy _02  1 days back

          So plagiarism but with a few words added to it, smh my teacher gave me a bad grade for it but turns out its part of evolution

          • Noquarter Atall
            Noquarter Atall  1 days back

            So if we need a mass extinction for evolution to flourish you could say that environmentalists are anti- evolution. :)

            • gabe fisher
              gabe fisher  1 days back

              Holocene extinction event is currently happening, when will new species start popping up?

              • Papa Mako
                Papa Mako  2 days back

                shut up FEMALE

                • e.c. havard
                  e.c. havard  2 days back

                  Mutations have never, and I do mean NEVER worked out to be a benefit for the poor creature that develops it. All mutations have been in any living thing a degradation and not an augmentation for the mutant.

                  • Szujhinzu
                    Szujhinzu  2 days back

                    7:53 didn't know that late Jurassic "birds" were already capable of such beautiful singing lol

                    • Richard Braakman
                      Richard Braakman  2 days back

                      "Why did all these animals look like animals that came much later?" is such a chronologically biased way of putting it :)

                      • louise
                        louise  3 days back

                        so when is the next mass extinction?

                        • Edward st.antoine
                          Edward st.antoine  3 days back

                          wow a cow trying to "teach"

                          • Alex Zuniga
                            Alex Zuniga  3 days back

                            Who high af rn

                          • Syphon Gamer
                            Syphon Gamer  4 days back

                            Uh ain't anyone heard of divergent evolution?

                            • Alonso Alcantar
                              Alonso Alcantar  4 days back

                              Triassic era was just life tryna figure itself out

                              • Brian Scholla
                                Brian Scholla  4 days back

                                I cant stop focusing on how pretty her hair looks

                                • Gabe Cook
                                  Gabe Cook  4 days back

                                  Every time she said “niche” incorrectly I died a little more

                                  • Kate Xie
                                    Kate Xie  5 days back

                                    So we don't need to worry too much about the current mass extinction we have been causing for a while, the survivors will adapt and evolve intro other species in some millions of years

                                    • Sunaki1000
                                      Sunaki1000  5 days back

                                      1:07 more dolphins, but ok.

                                      • HamsterMC
                                        HamsterMC  6 days back

                                        Am I the only one who clicked hoping to hear about more examples of weird Triassic animals and less natural selection review material?

                                        • snatchadams69
                                          snatchadams69  6 days back

                                          Trapped between 2 extinctions, there's a joke about existentialism here hold on give me a sec...

                                          • skelotal worrior
                                            skelotal worrior  6 days back

                                            is it just me or does everyone on pbs eons have basically the same speaking voice?

                                            • Raptarion 69
                                              Raptarion 69  1 weeks back

                                              When you run out of mass extinction names:
                                              the great _dying_

                                            • Justin Copenace
                                              Justin Copenace  1 weeks back

                                              The way i see us is like ants

                                              • LaughingSaint
                                                LaughingSaint  2 weeks back

                                                Are We body shaming Triassic dinosaurs now has it gotten this low😂😂🤪

                                                • Zerg Zerg
                                                  Zerg Zerg  2 weeks back

                                                  "Next mass extinction"

                                                  • House Music Everyday
                                                    House Music Everyday  2 weeks back

                                                    If I had enough money I’d pay all Americans to say niche correctly

                                                    • mrdfac
                                                      mrdfac  2 weeks back

                                                      Thanks! 👍

                                                      • Spacecookie
                                                        Spacecookie  2 weeks back

                                                        So what you're saying is that we'll close the curtains on this age in a pretty similar way that the Triassic ended?

                                                        • Deebz270
                                                          Deebz270  2 weeks back

                                                          The only life that is likely to survive the *current* mass extinction event, will be extremophile. You can thank the current apex predator - Homo sapiens-'sapiens' for that, being the only species in Earth's long history, to cause so much widespread damage to virtually all ecosystems and the only species ever to have split the atom and leave a legacy of an irradiated Earth. All within one epoch.
                                                          And that appointment with extinction, by all accounts, is not far off... And Humans are most certainly high on the list.

                                                          • Peter Wallace
                                                            Peter Wallace  2 weeks back

                                                            Speaks beautifully & lovely 😊 hair.

                                                            • Jude Luckett
                                                              Jude Luckett  3 weeks back

                                                              Other than Intelligence, Humans have EXTREMELY boring abilities. I WISH we could evolve to do something cool like fly, swim well, or be able to climb trees.

                                                              • Pardon80
                                                                Pardon80  3 weeks back

                                                                Bad editing. Some room to breathe between sentences please. Helps with comprehension.

                                                                • super cedric
                                                                  super cedric  4 weeks back

                                                                  can she breath

                                                                  • ivan abrosimov
                                                                    ivan abrosimov  1 months back

                                                                    eeeee a truly epic episode

                                                                    • craig muscat
                                                                      craig muscat  1 months back

                                                                      I think that the mega beasts were weirdest

                                                                      • Delaney Ness
                                                                        Delaney Ness  1 months back

                                                                        Thank you for making these videos. I enjoy them a lot! I would think it takes you guys forever to make them, so thank you!

                                                                        • Ali Sina
                                                                          Ali Sina  1 months back

                                                                          "Birdhead"? they should sue!

                                                                          • Cá Rô Chiên
                                                                            Cá Rô Chiên  1 months back

                                                                            If the next great extinction happens, many animals will evolution and replace human, nature may be clean more than now.😃

                                                                            • Govardhaan Thaanvaani
                                                                              Govardhaan Thaanvaani  1 months back

                                                                              Wouldn't it be great to go back in time, there and see for oneself the managerie of life forms, ....but only with an AK - 47, for self defense !

                                                                              • Deebz270
                                                                                Deebz270  2 weeks back

                                                                                LOL! An AK47 isn't likely to be of much help in defense... Not even with a convoy of ammo trucks... As with the HG Wells story - 'War of the Worlds', it is not the big nasty lizards you'll be in danger of, but the microscopic critters (bacteria, phages, viruses...) that your body will find alien and be without immunal defense (thus... A knapsack of anti-biotics would probably be of more use....).

                                                                            • Jorge of Albion
                                                                              Jorge of Albion  1 months back

                                                                              I’m torn, I would love to see a mass extinction meteor hit while I’m alive, but also, that would be a bummer.

                                                                              • Deebz270
                                                                                Deebz270  2 weeks back

                                                                                Well I've got news for you buddy.... By all scientific accounts, your wish may well be granted around mid 21st century...
                                                                                Watch this space...

                                                                            • Mr.J Glokta
                                                                              Mr.J Glokta  1 months back

                                                                              6:26 they were also the first species to carve their names in trees

                                                                              • George Ralph
                                                                                George Ralph  1 months back

                                                                                I could listen to her read the entire New York City telephone directory.

                                                                                • Shafqat Ishan
                                                                                  Shafqat Ishan  1 months back

                                                                                  Did phytosaurs really prey on gorgonopsids?

                                                                                  • Ayla Williamson
                                                                                    Ayla Williamson  2 months back

                                                                                    The triassic period looks like the beginning of Devilman

                                                                                    • Kyle Edwards
                                                                                      Kyle Edwards  2 months back

                                                                                      Stop saying evolution it was creation

                                                                                      • Dante Elliott
                                                                                        Dante Elliott  2 months back

                                                                                        Avicranium looks like Jabba's pet from Return of the Jedi

                                                                                        • Yo Mama56125
                                                                                          Yo Mama56125  2 months back

                                                                                          I lterally got an curiosity stream ad about triassic dinosaurs before watching yhis video