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Cretaceous


The Cretaceous (pronunciation: /krˈtʃəs/, krə-TAY-shəs) is a geologic period and system that spans 79 million years from the end of the Jurassic Period 145 million years ago (Mya) to the beginning of the Paleogene Period 66 Mya. It is the last period of the Mesozoic Era. The Cretaceous Period is usually abbreviated K, for its German translation Kreide (chalk).

The Cretaceous was a period with a relatively warm climate, resulting in high eustatic sea levels that created numerous shallow inland seas. These oceans and seas were populated with now-extinct marine reptiles, ammonites and rudists, while dinosaurs continued to dominate on land. During this time, new groups of mammals and birds, as well as flowering plants, appeared. The Cretaceous ended with a large mass extinction, the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event, in which many groups, including non-avian dinosaurs, pterosaurs and large marine reptiles died out. The end of the Cretaceous is defined by the abrupt K–Pg boundary, a geologic signature associated with the mass extinction which lies between the Mesozoic and Cenozoic eras.


Cretaceous Period
145–66 million years ago
K
Mean atmospheric O
2
content over period duration
c. 30 vol %
(150 % of modern level)
Mean atmospheric CO
2
content over period duration
c. 1700 ppm
(6 times pre-industrial level)
Mean surface temperature over period duration c. 18 °C
(4 °C above modern level)

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