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
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sample
Permian reef
Dimetrodon
Ophiacodon
Labidosaurus
Edaphosaur
Cotylorhynchus
Brachiopod
references and links
Foundational Concepts
Dating Methods
Earth Processes
Life Processes
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Permian Terrestrial Floras
Permian floras became much more xerophytic as the global climate shifted from cold to warm. Tropical regions dried out as rainfall seasonality increased. Only in what is now China did tropical rain forests and peat-forming swamps persist into the Late Permian. With this drying a whole new suite of plants appeared, expanding into many areas of the lowland landscape. Many of these plants had probably been living in Pennsylvanian-age upland regions, where soils were better drained than in the lower wetlands and rainfall may have been more seasonal. Climatic zonation was pronounced, however, and floras from different climatic belts were markedly distinct.

In addition, competition in these drier areas may have led to diversification and greater variability among seed-bearing plants. Plants may also have begun to evolve in response to the fact that they now had to survive the onslaught of new, abundant vertebrate herbivores. The Permian was rich in conifers (Walchia, Ernestiodendron), cycad-like plants (Taeniopteris, Russellites), gigantopterids (Gigantopteridium, Cathaysiopteris, Zeilleropteris, etc.), and callipterids (Autunia, Rachiphyllum). Most of these were seed producing. Limited wet spots persisted, identified by the occurrences of tree fern foliage, calamites (especially along stream banks), and rare tree lycopsids (Sigillaria).



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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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