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Sections of the supercontinent Pangaea were drifting apart.The Tethys Ocean still separated the northern Laurasia continent from southern Gondwana.These nests, found by Stephen Hasiotis and his team from the University of Colorado, are at least 207 million years old.

By the end of the period, the continents were much closer to modern configuration.Africa and South America had assumed their distinctive shapes; but India had not yet collided with Asia and Australia was still part of Antarctica. It seems to have been most similar to the modern black pepper plant and is thought to be at least 122 million years old.About the size of a crow, Confuciusornis is the earliest known bird to have a true beak.It lived about 10 to 15 million years after Archaeopteryx, but like its early ancestor, it still had clawed fingers.New research, however, indicates that insect pollination was probably well established before the first flowers.

While the oldest bee fossil was trapped in its amber prison only about 80 million years ago, evidence has been found that bee- or wasp-like insects built hive-like nests in what is now called the Petrified Forest in Arizona.

But other giant sauropods, including the titanosaurs, flourished, especially toward the end of the Cretaceous, Kruk said.

Large herds of herbivorous ornithischians also thrived during the Cretaceous, such as , continued as apex predators until the end of the Cretaceous.

Also within this layer are indications of “shocked quartz” and tiny glass-like globes called tektites that form when rock is suddenly vaporized then immediately cooled, as happens when an extraterrestrial object strikes the Earth with great force.

The Chicxulub (CHEEK-sheh-loob) crater in the Yucatan dates precisely to this time.

The event was formally known as the Cretaceous-Tertiary (K-T) event, but the International Commission on Stratigraphy, which sets standards and boundaries for the geologic time scale, now discourages the use of the term Tertiary. In 1979, a geologist who was studying rock layers between the Cretaceous and Paleogene periods spotted a thin layer of grey clay separating the two eras.