Late Jurassic

Last updated
Age (Ma)
Cretaceous Lower/
Berriasian younger
Jurassic Upper/
Tithonian ~145.0152.1
Kimmeridgian 152.1157.3
Oxfordian 157.3163.5
Middle Callovian 163.5166.1
Bathonian 166.1168.3
Bajocian 168.3170.3
Aalenian 170.3174.1
Toarcian 174.1182.7
Pliensbachian 182.7190.8
Sinemurian 190.8199.3
Hettangian 199.3201.3
Triassic Upper/
Rhaetian older
Subdivision of the Jurassic system
according to the ICS, as of 2017. [1]

The Late Jurassic is the third epoch of the Jurassic period, and it spans the geologic time from 163.5 ± 1.0 to 145.0 ± 0.8 million years ago (Ma), which is preserved in Upper Jurassic strata. [2]

In geochronology, an epoch is a subdivision of the geologic timescale that is longer than an age but shorter than a period. The current epoch is the Holocene Epoch of the Quaternary Period. Rock layers deposited during an epoch are called a series. Series are subdivisions of the stratigraphic column that, like epochs, are subdivisions of the geologic timescale. Like other geochronological divisions, epochs are normally separated by significant changes in the rock layers to which they correspond.

The Jurassic period was a geologic period and system that spanned 56 million years from the end of the Triassic Period 201.3 million years ago (Mya) to the beginning of the Cretaceous Period 145 Mya. The Jurassic constitutes the middle period of the Mesozoic Era, also known as the Age of Reptiles. The start of the period was marked by the major Triassic–Jurassic extinction event. Two other extinction events occurred during the period: the Pliensbachian-Toarcian extinction in the Early Jurassic, and the Tithonian event at the end; however, neither event ranks among the "Big Five" mass extinctions.

Geologic time scale A system of chronological dating that relates geological strata to time

The geologic time scale (GTS) is a system of chronological dating that relates geological strata (stratigraphy) to time. It is used by geologists, paleontologists, and other Earth scientists to describe the timing and relationships of events that have occurred during Earth's history. The table of geologic time spans, presented here, agree with the nomenclature, dates and standard color codes set forth by the International Commission on Stratigraphy (ICS).


In European lithostratigraphy, the name "Malm" indicates rocks of Late Jurassic age. [3] In the past, Malm was also used to indicate the unit of geological time, but this usage is now discouraged to make a clear distinction between lithostratigraphic and geochronologic/chronostratigraphic units.


Lithostratigraphy is a sub-discipline of stratigraphy, the geological science associated with the study of strata or rock layers. Major focuses include geochronology, comparative geology, and petrology. In general a stratum will be primarily igneous or sedimentary relating to how the rock was formed.


The Late Jurassic is divided into three ages, which correspond with the three (faunal) stages of Upper Jurassic rock:

  Tithonian (152.1 ± 0.9 – 145.0 ± 0.8 Ma)
  Kimmeridgian (157.3 ± 1.0 – 152.1 ± 0.9 Ma)
  Oxfordian (163.5 ± 1.0 – 157.3 ± 1.0 Ma)


During the Late Jurassic epoch, Pangaea broke up into two supercontinents, Laurasia to the north, and Gondwana to the south. The result of this break-up was the spawning of the Atlantic Ocean. However, at this time, the Atlantic Ocean was relatively narrow.

Pangaea Supercontinent from the late Paleozoic to early Mesozoic eras

Pangaea or Pangea was a supercontinent that existed during the late Paleozoic and early Mesozoic eras. It assembled from earlier continental units approximately 335 million years ago, and it began to break apart about 175 million years ago. In contrast to the present Earth and its distribution of continental mass, much of Pangaea was in the southern hemisphere and surrounded by a superocean, Panthalassa. Pangaea was the most recent supercontinent to have existed and the first to be reconstructed by geologists.

Supercontinent Landmass comprising more than one continental core, or craton

In geology, a supercontinent is the assembly of most or all of Earth's continental blocks or cratons to form a single large landmass. However, many earth scientists use a different definition: "a clustering of nearly all continents", which leaves room for interpretation and is easier to apply to Precambrian times.

Laurasia Northern supercontinent that formed part of the Pangaea supercontinent

Laurasia was the more northern of two supercontinents that formed part of the Pangaea supercontinent around 335 to 175 million years ago (Mya). It separated from Gondwana 215 to 175 Mya during the breakup of Pangaea, drifting farther north after the split.

Life forms of the epoch

This epoch is well known for many famous types of dinosaurs, such as the sauropods, the theropods, the thyreophorans, and the ornithopods. Other animals, such as crocodiles and the first birds, appeared in the Jurassic. Listed here are only a few of the many Jurassic animals:

Dinosaur Superorder of reptiles (fossil)

Dinosaurs are a diverse group of reptiles of the clade Dinosauria. They first appeared during the Triassic period, between 243 and 233.23 million years ago, although the exact origin and timing of the evolution of dinosaurs is the subject of active research. They became the dominant terrestrial vertebrates after the Triassic–Jurassic extinction event 201 million years ago; their dominance continued through the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. Reverse genetic engineering and the fossil record both demonstrate that birds are modern feathered dinosaurs, having evolved from earlier theropods during the late Jurassic Period. As such, birds were the only dinosaur lineage to survive the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event 66 million years ago. Dinosaurs can therefore be divided into avian dinosaurs, or birds; and non-avian dinosaurs, which are all dinosaurs other than birds. This article deals primarily with non-avian dinosaurs.

Thyreophora clade of dinosaurs (fossil)

Thyreophora is a group of armored ornithischian dinosaurs that lived from the early Jurassic Period until the end of the Cretaceous.

<i>Camarasaurus</i> genus of quadrupedal, herbivorous dinosaur (fossil)

Camarasaurus was a genus of quadrupedal, herbivorous dinosaurs. It was the most common of the giant sauropods to be found in North America. Its fossil remains have been found in the Morrison Formation of Colorado and Utah, dating to the Late Jurassic epoch, between 155 and 145 million years ago.

<i>Apatosaurus</i> Genus of reptiles (fossil)

Apatosaurus is a genus of herbivorous sauropod dinosaur that lived in North America during the Late Jurassic period. Othniel Charles Marsh described and named the first-known species, A. ajax, in 1877, and a second species, A. louisae, was discovered and named by William H. Holland in 1916. Apatosaurus lived about 152 to 151 million years ago (mya), during the late Kimmeridgian to early Tithonian age, and are now known from fossils in the Morrison Formation of modern-day Colorado, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Wyoming, and Utah in the United States. Apatosaurus had an average length of 21–22.8 m (69–75 ft), and an average mass of 16.4–22.4 t. A few specimens indicate a maximum length of 11–30% greater than average and a mass of 32.7–72.6 t.

<i>Brachiosaurus</i> genus of reptiles (fossil)

Brachiosaurus is a genus of sauropod dinosaur that lived in North America during the Late Jurassic, about 154–153 million years ago. It was first described by American paleontologist Elmer S. Riggs in 1903 from fossils found in the Colorado River valley in western Colorado, United States. Riggs named the dinosaur Brachiosaurus altithorax; the generic name is Greek for "arm lizard", in reference to its proportionately long arms, and the specific name means "deep chest". Brachiosaurus is estimated to have been between 18 and 21 meters long; weight estimates range from 28.3 to 58 metric tons. It had a disproportionately long neck, small skull, and large overall size, all of which are typical for sauropods. Atypically, Brachiosaurus had longer forelimbs than hindlimbs, which resulted in a steeply inclined trunk, and a proportionally shorter tail.

Related Research Articles

<i>Allosaurus</i> Genus of large theropod dinosaur

Allosaurus is a genus of carnivorous theropod dinosaur that lived 155 to 150 million years ago during the late Jurassic period. The name "Allosaurus" means "different lizard" alluding to its unique concave vertebrae. It is derived from the Greek ἄλλος/allos and σαῦρος/sauros. The first fossil remains that could definitively be ascribed to this genus were described in 1877 by paleontologist Othniel Charles Marsh. As one of the first well-known theropod dinosaurs, it has long attracted attention outside of paleontological circles. Indeed, it has been a top feature in several films and documentaries about prehistoric life.

The Mesozoic Era is an interval of geological time from about 252 to 66 million years ago. It is also called the Age of Reptiles and the Age of Conifers.

Theropoda group of dinosaurs

Theropoda or theropods are a dinosaur suborder that is characterized by hollow bones and three-toed limbs. They are generally classed as a group of saurischian dinosaurs, although a 2017 paper has instead placed them in the proposed clade Ornithoscelida as the closest relatives of the Ornithischia. Theropods were ancestrally carnivorous, although a number of theropod groups evolved to become herbivores, omnivores, piscivores, and insectivores. Theropods first appeared during the Carnian age of the late Triassic period 231.4 million years ago (Ma) and included the sole large terrestrial carnivores from the Early Jurassic until at least the close of the Cretaceous, about 66 Ma. In the Jurassic, birds evolved from small specialized coelurosaurian theropods, and are today represented by about 10,500 living species.

<i>Ceratosaurus</i> predatory theropod dinosaur

Ceratosaurus was a carnivorous theropod dinosaur in the Late Jurassic period. This genus was first described in 1884 by American paleontologist Othniel Charles Marsh based on a nearly complete skeleton discovered in Garden Park, Colorado, in rocks belonging to the Morrison Formation. The type species is Ceratosaurus nasicornis.

<i>Torvosaurus</i> genus of reptiles (fossil)

Torvosaurus is a genus of carnivorous megalosaurid theropod dinosaurs that lived approximately 153 to 148 million years ago during the Late Jurassic Period in what is now Colorado and Portugal. It contains two currently recognized species, Torvosaurus tanneri and Torvosaurus gurneyi.

<i>Giraffatitan</i> genus of sauropod dinosaur (fossil)

Giraffatitan is a genus of sauropod dinosaur that lived during the late Jurassic Period. It was originally named as an African species of Brachiosaurus (B. brancai), but this has since been changed. Giraffatitan was for many decades known as the largest dinosaur but recent discoveries of several larger dinosaurs prove otherwise; giant titanosaurians appear to have surpassed Giraffatitan in terms of sheer mass. Also, the sauropod dinosaur Sauroposeidon is estimated to be taller and possibly heavier than Giraffatitan.

<i>Saurophaganax</i> genus of reptiles (fossil)

Saurophaganax is a genus of allosaurid dinosaur from the Morrison Formation of Late Jurassic Oklahoma, United States. Some paleontologists consider it to be a species of Allosaurus. Saurophaganax represents a very large Morrison allosaurid characterized by horizontal laminae at the bases of the dorsal neural spines above the transverse processes, and "meat-chopper" chevrons. The maximum size of S. maximus has been estimated at anywhere from 10.5 meters (34 ft) to 13 meters (43 ft) in length, and around 3 metric tons in weight.

<i>Stokesosaurus</i> genus of reptiles (fossil)

Stokesosaurus is a genus of small, carnivorous early tyrannosauroid theropod dinosaurs from the late Jurassic period of Utah, United States.

<i>Epanterias</i> genus of reptiles (fossil)

Epanterias is a dubious genus of theropod dinosaur from the Kimmeridgian-Tithonian-age Upper Jurassic upper Morrison Formation of Garden Park, Colorado. It was described by Edward Drinker Cope in 1878. The type species is Epanterias amplexus. This genus is based on what is now AMNH 5767, parts of three vertebrae, a coracoid, and a metatarsal. Although Cope thought it was a sauropod, it was later shown to be a theropod. Gregory S. Paul reassessed the material as pertaining to a large species of Allosaurus in 1988. Other authors have gone further and considered E. amplexus as simply a large individual of Allosaurus fragilis. In 2010, Gregory S. Paul and Kenneth Carpenter noted that the E. amplexus specimen comes from higher in the Morrison Formation than the type specimen of Allosaurus fragilis, and is therefore "probably a different taxon". They also considered its holotype specimen not diagnostic and classified it as a nomen dubium.

<i>Lusotitan</i> genus of reptiles (fossil)

Lusotitan is a genus of herbivorous brachiosaurid sauropod dinosaur from the Late Jurassic Period of Portugal.

<i>Marshosaurus</i> genus of reptiles (fossil)

Marshosaurus is a genus of medium-sized carnivorous theropod dinosaur, belonging to the Megalosauroidea, from the Late Jurassic Morrison Formation of Utah and possibly Colorado.

<i>Othnielosaurus</i> genus of reptiles (fossil)

Othnielosaurus is a genus of ornithischian dinosaur that lived about 155 to 148 million years ago, during the Late Jurassic-age Morrison Formation of the western United States. It is named in honor of famed paleontologist Othniel Charles Marsh, and was formerly assigned to the genus Laosaurus. This genus was coined to hold fossils formerly included in Othnielia, which is based on remains that may be too sparse to hold a name. O.C. Marsh named several species and genera in the late 19th century that have come to be recognized as hypsilophodonts or hypsilophodont-like animals, including Nanosaurus agilis, "N." rex (Othnielia), Laosaurus celer, L. consors, and L. gracilis. This taxonomy has become very complicated, with numerous attempts at revision in the years since; Othnielosaurus is part of decades of research to untangle the taxonomy left behind by Marsh and his rival Edward Drinker Cope from the Bone Wars. Othnielosaurus has usually been classified as a hypsilophodont, a type of generalized small bipedal herbivore or omnivore, although recent research has called this and the existence of a distinct group of hypsilophodonts into question.

Evolution of dinosaurs An outline and examples of dinosaur evolution

Dinosaurs evolved within a single lineage of archosaurs 243-233 Ma from the Anisian to the Carnian ages, the latter part of the middle Triassic. Dinosauria is a well-supported clade, present in 98% of bootstraps. It is diagnosed by many features including loss of the postfrontal on the skull and an elongate deltopectoral crest on the humerus.

<i>Elrhazosaurus</i> genus of reptiles (fossil)

Elrhazosaurus is a genus of basal iguanodontian dinosaur, known from isolated bones found in Lower Cretaceous rocks of Niger. These bones were initially thought to belong to a species of the related dryosaurid Valdosaurus, but have since been reclassified.

Jurassic Museum of Asturias paleontological museum

The Jurassic Museum of Asturias is located in the area of Rasa de San Telmo near the parish of Llastres in the municipality of Colunga, Asturias, Spain. Though the municipality of Ribadesella was initially proposed, Colunga was chosen for the building site in the late 1990s. Several landmarks are visible from the museum including the Bay of Biscay, the Sierra del Sueve, and the Picos de Europa. Strategically located over a mount on the Rasa de San Temo, the museum is in the midst the Jurassic Asturias.


  2. Owen 1987.
  3. Gradstein, F.M.; Ogg, J.G.; Schmitz, M.D.; Ogg, G.M. (editors) (2012). The Geologic Timescale 2012 (volume 1). Elsevier. p. 744. ISBN   978-0-44-459390-0.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)