Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History Geologic Time The Story of a Changing Earth
Presented by the Department of Paleobiology.
The Pennsylvanian
Contents
Overview
Pennsylvanian Animal Life
Plant Life and the Coal Forests
Pennsylvanian Climate and Tectonics
Evidence
Annularia stellata, an extinct tree-like horsetail
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sample
Carboniferous Tree Fern
Fossil spider
references and links
Foundational Concepts
Dating Methods
Earth Processes
Life Processes
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Pennsylvanian Climate and Tectonics
In general the continents continued to collide and merge during the Pennsylvanian. Pieces once attached to Gondwana drifted north, approaching Siberia and the other northern continents. These subcontinent-sized blocks, called North China, South China, and Cimmeria were probably large islands during part of the late Paleozoic. Ultimately they collided and merged with Siberia and the other continents to complete the formation of Pangea during the Early Triassic.

As the continents continued to move around 270 million years ago, the climate changed correspondingly. Swamps dried out and many giant plants began to die out as the Pennsylvanian came to an end. The world of that time was in an ice age, a generally cold global climate phase. As a result it was climatically zoned, much like today. Ice sheets were present at high latitudes, but the equator remained relatively wet and tropical for much of the period. Mid-latitudes were seasonally dry, and some of the changes in climate and vegetation recorded by fossils and rocks in North America and Europe probably reflect the movement of these areas from the warm, wet tropical belt into the seasonally dry subtropics.

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Overview | Pennsylvanian Animal Life | Plant Life and the Coal Forests
Pennsylvanian Climate and Tectonics



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