Friday, January 28, 2011

Appalachia, island continent

During the late Cretaceous, shallow seas divided what is now North America into several continents. Much of the east lay on the island continent of Appalachia. Here's one map of 75 million years ago.

Here's another, drawn from National Geographic's 1993 "North America in the Age of the Dinosaurs" map. It's in their print map collection under North & South America, here.

Paleontology of North America has some other world maps, including the Cretaceous. There are no dinosaur fossils from Kentucky in this period, but a few plant fossils. The Cretaceous saw ammonites and mosasaurs along the coast, flowering plants like willow and walnut in Illinois and Sequoia in Virginia, hadrosaurs in Missouri, New Jersey, and Tennessee, the sauropod Astrodon in Maryland, and Pteradon in Delaware. Fossil hunting in New Jersey was particularly important in the early history of paleontology, since the state from 1858 yielded the first nearly-complete dinosaur fossils from North America: the duck-billed Hadrosaurus and the tyrannosaurid Dryptosaurus (1, 2, 3)

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