Deserts, Evolution and Extinction

Permian and Triassic 213-286 million years ago

This was a time of extraordinary changes on a global scale. On display are fossil tracks from animals living in hot, dry climates during the Permian and Triassic periods as well as fascinating imprints of raindrops. Alongside these are tracks and trace fossils from animals of many different ages. At the end of the Permian over 90% of all life on the Earth perished in the largest mass extinction ever. Find out what died out and what survived in this part of the museum.


During Permian and Triassic times, vast desert-like landscapes extended across much of North America, Eurpose and Russia, but they were not devoid of life. Lake and river sediments preserve traces of the plants and animals that lived there. Trails of footprints left by animals walking over wet sediment were sometimes covered by more sediment and preserved as trace fossils, known as Chirotherium. The problem is that it is often impossible to know exactly what kind of animal made them, but it is most likely that they were archosaur reptiles.

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