Blog Dinosaur Information

Triassic Animals – Discover The Animals That Lived In The Triassic Period

Not all Triassic animals have been dinosaurs! On this web page you’ll discover a listing of animals that lived in the Triassic Period that were not dinosaurs.

Triassic Animals: Introduction

The Triassic Period saw the looks not only of the first dinosaurs, but in addition of the primary true mammals. Other well-known animals that first appeared in the Triassic Period embrace the pterosaurs – the world’s first flying vertebrates, and the fearsome marine reptiles referred to as ichthyosaurs.

Though dinosaurs appeared through the Triassic Period, they wouldn’t turn into the dominant land animals until the Jurassic Period. As an alternative, the top Triassic land predators have been one other group of reptiles: the pseudosuchians. For a lot of the period the dominant land herbivores have been the dicynodonts, a gaggle of animals related to the ancestors of mammals.

On this page you’ll meet pseudosuchians, dicynodonts, and a number of other Triassic animals.

Triassic Animals: Page Index

Associated Pages

The Triassic Period: Background Info

The Triassic Period is the primary of the three durations that make up the Mesozoic Era (simply as years could be divided into months, eras might be divided into durations). It started 251.9 million years in the past (Mya), and ended 201.3 Mya. It was preceded by the Permian Period and adopted by the Jurassic Period.

The Triassic Period lasted around 50.6 million years. As you’ll be able to think about, during this vast amount of time Earth underwent large modifications, together with the looks and extinction of many animal species.

Permian–Triassic Extinction Occasion

The boundary between the Permian and Triassic Durations was marked by the worst extinction occasion the world has ever recognized. The Permian–Triassic Extinction Event resulted in the extinction of around 90% of all species.

This international extinction is assumed to have been triggered by large volcanic eruptions, inflicting devastating lava flows, a rise in international temperature and a poisoning of the environment.

It will take 10 million years for the world’s biodiversity to get well.

The end of the Triassic Period was also marked by a worldwide extinction occasion. The Triassic-Jurassic Extinction Event saw the extinction of the dinosaurs’ essential rivals, permitting the dinosaurs to grow to be dominant on land.

Triassic Animals: Reptiles

The Mesozoic Era is called the ‘Age of Reptiles’ for good cause; the Triassic Period saw reptiles outcompete their vertebrate rivals to turn into the dominant animals on land and in the sea.

In the Early Triassic the group of reptiles generally known as archosaurs cut up into two teams: Pseudosuchia and Avemetatarsalia.

Although it might be the avemetatarsalians – within the form of dinosaurs – which might ultimately rise to dominance later in the Mesozoic Era, within the Triassic Period the pseudosuchians have been the dominant meat-eaters on land.

(Incidentally, each teams nonetheless exist: avemetatarsalians in the shape of birds and pseudosuchians within the form of crocodiles, alligators and gharials.)



Saurosuchus. Photograph: Kentaro Ohno [CC BY 2.0]

With an estimated body size of 6 – 9 meters (20 – 30 ft.), Saurosuchus was an enormous, crocodile-like predator of the Late Triassic Period.

Saurosuchus had a mouth filled with serrated tooth and armor-plated pores and skin. It walked on 4 straight legs. It is extremely doubtless that this fearsome reptile was an apex predator. Saurosuchus specimens have been found in northwestern Argentina.


Postosuchus kirkpatricki

Postosuchus kirkpatricki

Like Saurosuchus, Postosuchus was a big, predatory pseudosuchian archosaur. Both Postosuchus and Saurosuchus are presently positioned in the same household, Rauisuchidae.

Postosuchus lived within the southern United States through the Late Triassic. It was 4 to five meters (13 to 16 ft.) in length, and its relatively brief fore limbs recommend that it walked bipedally (on two legs). One of many largest carnivorous round on the time, it is more likely to have been an apex predator.



Silesaurus. Image: Dmitry Bogdanov [CC BY-SA 3.0]

Silesaurus was a 2.three m (7.5 ft.) lengthy reptile that lived in Poland through the Late Triassic. It was a lightly-built, fast-moving animal that walked on its hind legs.

Coprolites (fossilized droppings) found in the vicinity of Silesaurus specimens recommend that the reptile might have been an insectivore (insect eater). Seemingly missing tooth, Silesaurus might have had a bird-like beak for capturing its insect prey. (The artist’s impression above exhibits Silesaurus with tooth.)

Reptiles resembling Silesaurus have been the closest family members of the dinosaurs. Solely slight anatomical differences separate them from ‘true’ dinosaurs.


Phytosaurs have been giant, semi-aquatic predatory reptiles that seemed – and acted – like modern-day crocodiles. Their lengthy snouts have been crammed with a whole lot of sharp tooth, which have been more likely to have advanced for catching fish.

Phytosaurs appeared through the Center Triassic and, like most non-dinosaur archosaurs, did not make it by way of the Triassic-Jurassic Extinction Occasion.


Placerias vs Redondasaurus

This museum exhibit exhibits Redondasaurus attacking a Placerias. Photograph: Christopher Holden [CC BY-SA 2.0]

Redondasaurus had the standard long, skinny snout of a Phytosaur. This predatory reptile of the Late Triassic was found in New Mexico.



Hyperodapedon huxleyi(syn. Paradapedon), a rhynchosaur from the late Triassic of India. Image by Nobu Tamura [CC BY 3.0]

Rhynchosaurs have been herbivores outfitted with sharp beaks for chopping foliage and enormous claws on their hind ft, which can have been used for digging.

Though they weren’t archosaurs, Rhynchosaurs shared the identical ancestors as the group that gave rise to both the dinosaurs and the crocodile-like pseudosuchians.

Rhynchosaurs have been found in many elements of the world. They have been present from the Early Triassic and have become extinct within the Late Jurassic.

Triassic Animals: The Early Family members of Mammals


Synapsida, the department of animals that included the ancestors of mammals, had cut up from Diapsida – the branch that included the ancestors of reptiles – in the Late Carboniferous Period, around 50 million years before the beginning of the Triassic Period.

A subgroup of synapsids referred to as therapsids appeared round 30 million years ago, in the course of the Permian Period.

Earlier synapsids walked on bent legs that projected outwards from the edges of the body. As therapsids advanced, their legs moved to the bottom of the physique and projected downwards.

This adaptation offered a larger load-bearing capability and extra efficient motion. It was also seen within the archosaurs.

The synapsids fared poorly in the course of the Permian-Triassic Extinction Event, with solely three major groups – the dicynodonts, therocephalians, and cynodonts – surviving into the Triassic Period.


Dicynodonts have been herbivores that have been outfitted with beaks for chopping by way of foliage. Many species had two tusk-like tooth. (The identify dicynodont means ‘two dog tooth’.)

In the direction of the top of the Permian Period dicynodonts turned the most typical land vertebrates.

There were many several types of dicynodont. Although their number was enormously lowered in the Permian-Triassic mass extinction, several dicynodont teams made it via to the Triassic Period.



Lystrosaurus. Picture by Dmitry Bogdanov [CC BY-SA 3.0]

Lystrosaurus was a pig-sized dicynodont. Because of the powerful build of its forelimbs and the shape of its skull it is thought that Lystrosaurus was a burrower which will have excavated a new residence every night time. Like different dicynodonts, it had a beak-like mouth and two tusk-like tooth.

After surviving the Permian-Triassic mass extinction, Lystrosaurus turned the most typical land vertebrate of the Early Triassic. Lystrosaurus specimens are most ample in Africa, and have additionally been found in Asia, Europe and Antarctica.



Dinodontosaurus. Image by Dmitry Bogdanov [CC BY 3.0]

Dinodontosaurus was a large plant-eating dicynodont that lived through the Middle and Late Triassic Period. One of many largest dicynodonts, it grew to virtually 8ft. (2.4 m) in length and was found in what’s now Brazil.

The stays of ten toddler Dinodontosauruses have been found together at one excavation website. This means that these Triassic animals lived in family groups for some of their lives.



Lisowicia. Image by Dmitry Bogdanov [CC BY 3.0]

Lisowicia is the most important recognized dicynodont – and the most important animal that wasn’t a dinosaur – of the Triassic Period. This elephant-sized, 9 tonne plant-eater lived in Poland in the course of the Late Triassic Period.

In contrast to other dicynodonts, Lisowacia’s limbs projected straight down from its physique, somewhat than projecting outwards from the edges.



Placerias hesternus

Placerias was a dicyndont that lived within the Late Jurassic. Its stays have been present in Arizona and Carolina.

Placerias was one of many largest herbivorous animals of the time, growing as much as 3 meters (10 ft.) in length and weighing around 1 tonne. It was a herd animal, and should have been semi-aquatic, using the water as a refuge from predators akin to Postosuchus.




Microgomphodon. Picture by Dmitry Bogdanov [CC BY 3.0]

Microgomphodon was a therocephalian that lived within the Middle Triassic. Stays of this dog-like relative of early mammals have been found in southern Africa. It is likely one of the last-known therocephalians (the group turned extinct through the Center Triassic).


Cynodontia is a branch of synapsids that includes mammals and the early relations of mammals. Humans and all other mammals, dwelling and extinct, are cynodonts.

Cynodonts appeared in the Late Permian and survived the Permian-Triassic Extinction Occasion. Although early Triassic cynodonts laid eggs, they have been rising ever extra mammal-like, and have been in all probability warm-blooded.



Thrinaxodon. Image by Nobu Tamura [CC BY-SA 3.0]

Thrinaxodon was a 20” (50 cm) cynodont that lived in what is now southern African and Antarctica through the Early Triassic. It was giant for a cynodont, and its posture was much less sprawled that that of its ancestors.

Like trendy mammals, thrinaxodon had a secondary palette – a bony plate that separates the nasal cavity from the mouth. This meant that thrinaxodon might proceed to breathe whereas chewing its food.

Thrinaxodon in all probability had hair, and holes in its skull recommend that it might have had whiskers; this Triassic animal would have appeared far more mammal-like than its earlier, more ‘reptile-like’ ancestors.



Megazostrodon reconstruction in Natural History Museum, London. Cropped & resized version of unique photograph by Theklan. [CC BY-SA 4.0]

Megazostrodon was a shrew-like animal that appeared within the Late Triassic Period and survived to the Early Jurassic. It has enough mammalian traits to be thought-about one of many earliest-known mammals.

This 5” (12 cm) long, furry animal lived in what’s now southern Africa. It was in all probability nocturnal, having a large mind that allowed it to process night-time sounds and smells. Megazostrodon’s nocturnal way of life was in all probability an adaption to permit it to exist concurrently dinosaurs and different predatory reptiles.

Marine Reptiles of the Triassic Period

Although they might rule on land, the dinosaurs by no means expanded into the oceans. As an alternative, numerous other groups of fearsome reptiles battled for marine supremacy in the course of the Mesozoic Era. A number of of these groups would appear through the Triassic Period…


Ichthyosaurs are a gaggle of reptiles that lived within the sea in the course of the Mesozoic Era. The ancestors of ichthyosaurs have been land animals who steadily advanced into absolutely aquatic animals.

Ichthyosaurs – whose identify means ‘fish lizards’ – first appeared in the course of the Early Triassic.



Cymbospondylus. Picture by Nobu Tamura [CC BY-SA 3.0]

Cymbospondylus was one of many first ichthyosaurs. Though fully-aquatic, it wasn’t as ‘fish-like’ as later ichthyosaurs. It lacked each a dorsal fin and a large tail, and doubtless swam using eel-like undulations of its lengthy, skinny physique and tail.

Cymbospondylus was one of many largest-known ichthyosaurs, reaching lengths of as much as 10 m (33 ft.).




Despite being a reptile, ichthyosaurus seemed very very similar to as we speak’s sharks and dolphins. It had a streamlined, fish-like physique, a big tail with which it propelled itself by way of the water, and a dorsal fin on its back that offered stability.

Ichthyosaurus had giant eyes and doubtless hunted its prey – which included fish and squid – by sight.


Shortly after the Triassic Period began, a gaggle of land reptiles advanced to stay within the sea. This group was the Sauropterygia, whose identify means ‘lizard flippers’.

The sauropterygians have been the ancestors of several groups of Triassic marine animals, together with the Nothosaurs, Placodonts and Pistosauroids (who themselves have been the ancestors of Plesiosaurs).


Many reptiles of the Triassic Period have comparable life to those of modern-day mammals. The plant-eating dicynodonts lived in herds, identical to at present’s cattle. The way of life of the nothosaurs may be in comparison with that of right now’s seals and sea lions. These aquatic and semi-aquatic animals would have hunted in the sea and hauled themselves out of the water to rest on the shore.

Nothosaurs had streamlined bodies and lengthy necks and tails. Their flipper-like ft had webbed toes.

The sharp tooth lining the mouths of nothosaurs recommend they hunted fish, squid, and marine reptiles.

Nothosaurs shared the identical ancestors as the plesiosaurs, but were not themselves ancestors of the plesiosaurs.



Nothosaurus. Image by Nobu Tamura [CC BY 3.0]

Nothosaurus was a 4m (13 ft.) long semi-aquatic reptile that lived on the northern coasts of the Tethys Ocean (the massive body of water partially enclosed by the C-shaped supercontinent Pangea).

Each of its four legs was outfitted with long, webbed toes, which allowed the animal to each swim within the water and walk on land.

Its long, agile neck, lengthy snout and skinny, pointed tooth would have allowed it to capture fish and different marine animals.



Ceresiosaurus. Picture by Dmitry Bogdanov [CC BY 3.0]

In contrast to these of Nothosaurus, the toe bones of Ceresiosaurus have been fused together into flippers. The front pair of flippers was greater than the hind pair, suggesting that they could have offered a minimum of a number of the power when the animal was swimming.

This 3m (10 ft.) long ocean predator lived in the course of the Middle Triassic.


Pistosauridae was a family of animals that included the ancestors of the plesiosaurs.



Pistosaurus. Picture by Nobu Tamura [CC BY-SA 3.0]

Pistosaurus was a 10 ft. (3m) marine reptile with an extended neck, small head, lengthy tail, and 4 flippers. In contrast to a lot of the nothosaurs, it swam by powering itself via the water with its flippers, relatively than by undulations of its physique and tail.


Placodonts have been semi-aquatic and aquatic marine reptiles that appeared in the Middle Triassic and have become extinct on the finish of the Late Triassic.

In the direction of the top of the Triassic Period many placodonts had advanced arduous, turtle-like shells as safety towards ichthyosaurs and nothosaurs.

Placodonts have been outfitted with giant, flat tooth for crushing shellfish.


Placodus and Cyamodus

Placodus and Cyamodus. Image by DiBgd [CC BY-SA 4.0]

Placodus was a marine reptile that lived through the Center Triassic. Its stays have been found in Central Europe and China.

It used its protruding entrance tooth to prize shellfish from rocks and its flat hind tooth to crush the shells of its prey.

Placodus had an extended tail and webbed toes to propel it by means of the water. It resembled at this time’s marine iguana, and doubtless had an identical way of life, foraging in the sea and resting on the shore.


Henodus chelyops

Henodus chelyops. Image by Nobu Tamura [CC BY-SA 4.0]

Henodus was a placodont that lived in what is now Germany through the Late Triassic. It had a flat, square shell that was as extensive because it was long. Its mouth was outfitted with a flat beak and just two tooth. It might have been herbivorous, filtering plant matter from the water.


Pterosaurs are among the best-known Triassic animals. These winged, flying reptiles first appeared in the course of the Late Triassic, and have been current throughout the Mesozoic Era, only turning into extinct with the Cretaceous–Paleogene Extinction Occasion that additionally killed off the (non-avian) dinosaurs.

In the course of the Mesozoic Era many several types of pterosaur came and went. Early specimens had lengthy tails and tooth – features that had disappeared in lots of pterosaurs by the top of the Cretaceous Period.



Eudimorphodon. Resized & cropped. Unique by Tommy [CC BY 2.0]

Eudimorphodon was a pterosaur that lived in Italy in the course of the Late Triassic. It is among the earliest-known pterosaurs.

Eudimorphodon had a wingspan of round 1 m (three.3 ft.), and was capable of true flight relatively than merely gliding. Like many early pterosaurs it had an extended tail, on the tip of which was a diamond-shaped vane which may have acted as a rudder.

Triassic Animals: Invertebrates

Groups of land animals reminiscent of millipedes, centipedes, arachnids (together with spiders) and insects had already appeared hundreds of thousands of years earlier than the beginning of the Triassic Period.

Ocean animals reminiscent of crustaceans, corals, ammonites, mollusks and sea urchins have been additionally all long-established earlier than the Triassic Period started.

Through the Triassic Period these teams continued to evolve. In the present day’s spiders are divided between two groups: Mygalomorphae and Araneomorphae; these teams appeared through the Triassic Period. The earliest fly fossils date back to the Triassic Period (though it is thought that flies might have appeared even earlier).

Triassic Animals: Amphibians


Temnospondyli is a gaggle of now-extinct four-legged amphibious animals. Although temnospondyls had scales and claws and resembled crocodiles, the group of animals to which they belong – Batrachomorpha – consists of immediately’s amphibians and their ancestors.



Sclerothorax. Image by ДиБгд [CC BY-SA 3.0]

Sclerothorax was a temnospondyl present in Germany in the course of the Early Triassic Period. It was around 1.three m in length and had a shallow, large head and a ridged back. Its skin contained bony plates.




Plagiosaurus was a temnospondyl from the Triassic Period whose remains have been found in France, Germany and Luxemburg. Its skin was strengthened with bony plates.

Like as we speak’s mudpuppies, plagiosaurus is assumed to have been solely aquatic, retaining its external gills even after reaching maturity.

Triassic Animals Conclusion

The Triassic Period was a momentous time for all times on Earth. It saw the appearance of both the dinosaurs and of mammals. Pterosaurs and ichthyosaurs additionally made their first appearances, and reptiles turned the dominant animals on land, in the sea, and in the air.

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