Dodos Dinos and Deinococcus History of A Habitable Planet Discussion

CHAPTER 14: Questions

1) The great Pangaea landmass began to rift in the early Mesozoic.

A) What is mean by continental rifting?

B) What are some of the causes of rifting?

C) What sort of rocks or structures that provide evidence of past rifting.

2) Where (what part of North America ) and WHEN did the Nevadan Orogeny take place?

3) Where (what part of North America ) and WHEN did the Sevier Orogeny take place?

4) Where (what part of North America ) and WHEN did the Laramide Orogeny take place?

5) Let’s say that you want to go on a trip to examine the Mesozoic eolian (wind-deposited) sandstones of the Colorado Plateau. Where should you go, and what specific sandstone units (called “Formations”) will you see?

Hint—You must make sure that you are listing “wind-deposited” sandstones! This may take some research!

6) During what part of the Mesozoic were the above eolian sandstones deposited—Early, Middle, or Late?

7) What portion of modern North America was inundated by the “Cretaceous Interior Seaway”?

8) What might have CAUSED the transgression of the Cretaceous Sea (and other epeiric seas, like the previous “ Sundance Sea”)? (see Figs. 14.5 and 14.6)

9) Try this video—built from Professor Ron Blakey (Univ of Arizona) high precision paleo-geographic reconstructions.


What are the big sort of changes that you see as you move through the three periods of the Mesozoic, in the western United States?

CHAPTER 15: Questions

You gotta love the Mesozoic, after all it’s Dinosaur time!

1) When did the first dinosaurs appear? And, how did their size and mode of locomotion (bipedal versus quadripedal ) change through the Mesozoic?

2) What is the difference between Saurischian and Ornithischian types?

And, Which type included only herbivores?

3) Which group of dinosaurs is thought to have had a particular lineage that gave rise to birds?

4) When did the first mammals appear? (or at least, when do we first find mammals in fossil record?) What did they look like?

5) When do birds appear in the fossil record?

And, if dinosaurs supposedly gave rise to birds, how can it be that dinosaurs and birds coexisted?

6) Describe the available evidence for a K/T (terminal Mesozoic) extraterrestrial impactor?

List at least four lines of reasoning.
Be very careful here—do NOT provide information about the effects of an impact; instead, please make sure you tell me WHY scientists think that an impact happened. In other words, you must provide EVIDENCE!

CHAPTER 16: Questions

1) Contrast the mountain building and plate tectonic setting of the Himalayas versus the Andes . Why are the Himalayas so much higher?

2) The Laramide Orogeny tilted the rocks of the “Flatirons,” near Boulder . These sediments were deposited, more or less flat lying, during the Late Paleozoic, but then tilted during the Early Cenozoic!

What sort of plate tectonic setting has been proposed for the Larmide Orogeny and why?

(In other words— during the Laramide Orogeny, what type of plate boundary existed? And, what changes were occurring associated with the plate motions or plate geometry?)

3) What is the geographic extent of the Laramide Orogeny? In other words, what parts of North America were affected by this “orogenic,” i.e. mountain building, event?

4) Why do you think some mountain uplifts affect large areas, but others affect only small areas?

5) Basin and Range deformation involves lots of normal faults that separate ranges from basins. Did this kind of deformation result from compression (i.e. squeeze) or extension (i.e. pull-apart) forces in this portion of the continent.

6) The Basin and Range Province is a region of unusually high heat flow, i.e. the temperature in the crust rises relatively quickly with depth, as compared to other parts of North America (except, of course, active volcanic regions like Yellowstone).

Why is it that in this region the temperature rises relatively quickly with depth beneath the surface?


The textbook is Historical Geology, Evolution of Earth and Life Through Time, 7th Edition, by Wicander and Monroe.