Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History Geologic Time The Story of a Changing Earth
Presented by the Department of Paleobiology.
The Mississippian
Contents
Overview
Life in the Seas
Tetrapods and Other Life on Land
Mississippian Tectonics and Climate
Evidence
Mississippian brachiopods
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Foundational Concepts
Dating Methods
Earth Processes
Life Processes
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Mississippian Tectonics and Climate
At the beginning of the Mississippian, shallow seas covered large parts of the continents. Large amounts of limestone were deposited in these shallow seas, preserving the skeletons of diverse marine invertebrates. Also at this time, Earth was in a greenhouse climate state with relatively warm temperatures across a wide range of latitudes.

The uplifting of the continents in the Mississippian reduced the area covered by inland seas and resulted in less available space for marine life. As Gondwana continued to move across the South Pole during the Late Mississippian, temperatures cooled and ice began to form in great sheets. As more water was frozen into these ice sheets, sea levels dropped and terrestrial habitats in turn increased. The globally warm climate became cooler later in the Mississippian.

The supercontinent of Gondwana continued to drift northward and collide with Euramerica during the Mississippian. The forces in this collision began to build the Appalachian and Variscan Mountains. The merged continents formed a nearly continuous landmass that straddled the equator. In the latest Paleozoic and early Mesozoic the combined Euramerica and Gondwana would become the western part of the supercontinent Pangea. Present-day China was still represented by some isolated subcontinental blocks not yet sutured to Pangea.

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Overview | Life in the Seas | Tetrapods and Other Life on Land
Mississippian Tectonics and Climate



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