The First Dinosaurs - Part 2: The Great Dying
To understand how the first dinosaurs evolved, we must first go back 252 million years, to the end of the Permian period. In this time, no reptile ruled. Instead, it was the protomammals. Before the Mesozoic, creatures related to modern mammals waddled and ran in the conifer forests and red deserts of the Permian' s only continent, Pangaea. Plumb bodied dicynodonts lumbered looking for plants while being hunted savage dog-like predators called gorgonopsids. In the undergrowth, smaller protomammals were the first animals to have whiskers and fur. At the end of the Permian, it seemed as the protomammals would rule for millions of years to come. This was not to be. For a long time, many have been looking for the reason of the Permian Extinction. It is now thought a volcanic eruption in ancient Siberia is to blame. In an ancient volcanic region known as the Siberia 252 million years ago, the first rivers of lava starting pouring out of the cracks in the rock. This wasn't any type of eruption. This type of eruption, known as a basalt eruption, is when lava from Earth's mantle pours out of cracks in the rock, and it continues to pour for thousands, possibly millions of years. By the time the eruption stopped, a region the size of the United States was covered in a lake of lava. This, however, wasn't the most devastating effect of the volcanoes. The eruption had caused so much smoke to go in the atmosphere, that when it rained, it did not rain water, but acidic liquid. This burned the plants, causing them to die. Now that the oceans were so acidic, hard bodied creatures could not build there bodies. Another side effect of the smoke was that it was filled with greenhouse gasses, that the average temprature of the Earth reached into the 100's. With so much carbon dioxide, the large land animals that needed the most oxygen started to die off as well. The creatures of the Permian burned, baked, starved, and suffocated at the same time. The Permian Extinction was the closest life on Earth had come to being completely eradicated, with 90 percent of all life being killed in an event forever immortalized as "The Great Dying"