The Jurassic (// juu-RASS-ik) is a geologic period and stratigraphic system that spanned from the end of the Triassic Period 201.3 million years ago (Mya) to the beginning of the Cretaceous Period, approximately 145 Mya. The Jurassic constitutes the middle period of the Mesozoic Era and is named after the Jura Mountains, where limestone strata from the period were first identified.
|Regional usage||Global (ICS)|
|Time scale(s) used||ICS Time Scale|
|Time span formality||Formal|
|Lower boundary definition||First appearance of the ammonite Psiloceras spelae tirolicum.|
|Lower boundary GSSP||Kuhjoch section, Karwendel mountains, Northern Calcareous Alps, Austria|
|Upper boundary definition||Not formally defined|
|Upper boundary definition candidates|
|Upper boundary GSSP candidate section(s)||None|
The start of the Jurassic was marked by the major Triassic–Jurassic extinction event, associated with the eruption of the Central Atlantic Magmatic Province. The beginning of the Toarcian Stage started around 183 million years ago, and is marked by an extinction event associated with widespread oceanic anoxia, ocean acidification, and elevated temperatures likely caused by the eruption of the Karoo-Ferrar large igneous provinces. The end of the Jurassic, however, has no clear boundary with the Cretaceous and is the only boundary between geological periods to remain formally undefined.
By the beginning of the Jurassic, the supercontinent Pangaea had begun rifting into two landmasses: Laurasia to the north and Gondwana to the south. The climate of the Jurassic was warmer than the present, and there were no ice caps. Forests grew close to the poles, with large arid expanses in the lower latitudes.
On land, the fauna transitioned from the Triassic fauna, dominated jointly by dinosauromorph and pseudosuchian archosaurs, to one dominated by dinosaurs alone. The first birds appeared during the Jurassic, evolving from a branch of theropod dinosaurs. Other major events include the appearance of the earliest lizards and the evolution of therian mammals. Crocodylomorphs made the transition from a terrestrial to an aquatic life. The oceans were inhabited by marine reptiles such as ichthyosaurs and plesiosaurs, while pterosaurs were the dominant flying vertebrates.