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Beasties of fur and of feather

Our world long ago with lands joined together
when first appeared beasties of fur and of feather.

Artistic view on the life in the triassic period by Richard Morden. Get it here!
(All copyright belongs to him!)

This artistic map shows the supercontinent Pangaea and the Tethys ocean. It’s a surprisingly accurate depiction where the landmasses of today were in the triassic period.

Pangaea 250 to 200 million years ago

Pangaea resulted from the collision of the two major continents Gondwana and Laurussia, surrounded by the great panthalassic ocean. We’re looking at a time after the Perm-Triassic extinction. It took another 30 million years1 for life to redevelop into it’s beautiful diverse complexity and it was the start of an era. The dinosaurs inhabited Earth. They’re not quite drawn to scale but that’s artistic freedom. We can find Ichthyosaurus South-East of the lettering Tethys Ocean, which was a highly succesful marine predator. Down in “Antarctica” South of Pangaea you can find a shark-like lifeform. In case you didn’t know, yes sharks are some animal that happens to be around a little longer.2 On land we can find the first known flying reptile, the pterosaurs, just between Europe and North America. The other species on two or four legs resemble quite a few images I found of Proterosuchus, Cynognathus, Coelophysis and the famous Plateosaurus. However, I’m not an expert here and someone else would probably be better at pointing out the different species that resemble those drawings.

But there is more!

When we look outside of the map we find the header with two reptile heads. Our scaly friend on the left would be the beasty of fur, whereas the head on the right is the beasty of feather. For the old folks that haven’t played with dinosaurs for a while, yes dinosaurs most likely had feathers.3
xkcd - feathers CC-BY-NC 2.5
And on the bottom we see a couple of plants. On the left those resemble the first “palm ferns” (Cycads) which depict the rise of gymnosperms in the Trias and there are even some Pleuromeia. On the left we see different species that can be placed in the marine flora.

This map is incredibly detailed and a wonderful artistic interpretation of the state of science on the Triassic period. You can get it in print from Richard Morden on redbubble.

I will go and read up on the PLoS collection on paleontology you can follow me or have a look over to where I found this piece of art.


  1. Sahney, S., & Benton, M. (2008). Recovery from the most profound mass extinction of all time Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 275 (1636), 759-765 DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2007.1370
  2. Martin, R. Aidan. "Geologic Time". ReefQuest.
  3. Fowler, D., Freedman, E., Scannella, J., & Kambic, R. (2011). The Predatory Ecology of Deinonychus and the Origin of Flapping in Birds PLoS ONE, 6 (12) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0028964


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