Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History Geologic Time The Story of a Changing Earth
Presented by the Department of Paleobiology.
The Permian
Contents
Overview
Terrestrial Animal Life and Evolution of Herbivores
Permian Terrestrial Floras
The Marine Realm and The End-Permian Extinction
, Climate, and the Formation of Pangea
Evidence
Late Permian brachiopods
learn more
sample
Permian reef
Dimetrodon
Ophiacodon
Labidosaurus
Edaphosaur
Cotylorhynchus
Brachiopod
references and links
Foundational Concepts
Dating Methods
Earth Processes
Life Processes
Privacy Statement Copyright
Glossary Credits Email Us


OVERVIEW
Permian 299–252 mya
Defining Characteristics:
  • • the end of the Permian and the Paleozoic is based on the most extensive mass extinction in the past 600 million years, leading to the advent of dinosaurs and modern terrestrial and marine biotas
  • • Map of the Permian World
Secondary Characteristics:
  • • extensive glaciation at the start gives way to general global warming
  • • great diversity of amphibians, diapsids, and synapsids
  • • the greatest high-level taxonomic diversity of insects of all time
  • • seed plants become more dominant

Roderick Murchison in 1841 based the name of the Permian system on rock strata that he had studied in the Perm region of central Russia. He discovered that these rocks were above the “Coal Measures” (Carboniferous rocks) and below the “New Red Sandstone” (Triassic rocks). Well-known Permian strata occur in Texas and Oklahoma, central and eastern Europe, South America, and the Karoo Basin of South Africa.

The Permian Period marked the end of the Paleozoic Era. The land was inhabited by a wide diversity of terrestrial insects and vertebrates. Insects included the earliest representatives of the two most dominant groups of insects—the hemipteroids, represented by extant cicadas and lice, and the highly diverse holometabola, represented by beetles, flies, wasps, and moths. Also important were the first vertebrate herbivores. Marine faunas were still dominantly composed of groups belonging to the Paleozoic Fauna. The Earth’s continents were coalescing into a single supercontinent, Pangea. The rise of conifers as dominant elements of tropical vegetation reflects increased seasonality of rainfall in tropical areas. The Permian is most remarkable for its conclusion, however: the end-Permian extinction was the largest of the past 600 million years, and it heralded the end of the dominance of the Paleozoic Fauna. In its aftermath, archosaurs rose to dominate the land, and more modern groups filled the marine realm.


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Overview | Terrestrial Animal Life and Evolution of Herbivores | Permian Terrestrial Floras
The Marine Realm and The End-Permian Extinction | Tectonics, Climate, and the Formation of Pangea



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