The Cretaceous Period (146-65 million years ago)

In the early Cretaceous, many of the southern continents were still joined together as part of the southern landmass called Gondwana. Northern continents formed the great landmass Laurasia. These two supercontinents shared many plants and animals dating from an earlier time when they were joined as one enormous landmass.

Map of world: early Cretaceous

Ronald Blakey © Ronald Blakey

Australia's Cretaceous facts

Position

  • Australia was joined to Antarctica, New Zealand and South America, forming the last remnant of the great southern landmass called Gondwana. About 80 million years ago New Zealand drifted away from the rest of Gondwana.
  • The Australian part of Gondwana was located close to the South Pole. Southern Australia lay within the Antarctic Circle.


Climate

  • Australia had a cool, wet climate.For several weeks each year, parts of Australia may have had an icy polar winter including semi-darkness.

Setting

  • A shallow inland sea called the Eromanga Sea covered nearly one-third of Australia.

Vegetation

  • Towering conifer forests covered much of Australia. Smaller plants such as ferns, gingkoes, cycads, clubmosses and horsetails created an understorey. The first flowering plants had begun to bloom.

Animals

  • Giant reptiles - the dinosaurs - ruled the land. Flying reptiles shared the skies with early forms of birds. Giant marine reptiles inhabited the seas. Australia's first mammals, including relatives of the Platypus, had appeared.

What was happening in the rest of the world

  • Flowering plants were spreading throughout the world.
  • Some dinosaurs including meat-eating tyrannosaurs were becoming dominant while others such as plant-eating, plated dinosaurs like stegosaurs were declining.
  • Early forms of birds and mammals lived in most continents


Last Updated:

Tags Lost Kingdoms, Cretaceous, dinosaurs, snapshots through time,