The Permian witnessed the diversification of the early amniotes into the ancestral groups of the mammals, turtles, lepidosaurs and archosaurs. The world at the time was dominated by a single supercontinent known as Pangaea, surrounded by a global ocean called Panthalassa. The extensive rainforests of the Carboniferous had disappeared, leaving behind vast regions of arid desert within the continental interior. Reptiles, who could better cope with these drier conditions, rose to dominance in lieu of their amphibian ancestors. The Permian Period (along with the Paleozoic Era) ended with the largest mass extinction in Earth's history, in which nearly 90% of marine species and 70% of terrestrial species died out. It would take well into the Triassic for life to recover from this catastrophe. Recovery from the Permian-Triassic extinction event was protracted; on land, ecosystems took 30M years to recover. -Wikipedia, Permian
By this time invertebrates had long taken over the land.
Three variant types of pelycosaur of the Permian period of Texas. Carnivorous fin-back Dimetrodon, plant-eating Edaphosaurus, and lizard-shaped Casea. Paleozoic era.
Development of parental care. Memories of the era • Advanced animals. Some predatory, some indifferent. • It was medium sized dinosaurs that were after the small mammals. Then they were eaten by the big T-rexes. • Ferns • Large moon • Constantly looking for sweet fruits, or dead bodies. • Guided by smells • Moving through the undergrowth • It is now a lumbering reptile. Needs a lot of sun. Competes for sunspots • There should be different characters with different traits • One reptile prefers not to compete. Competition leads to injuries • Watch as others get eaten. Breeds by chance • Get into a fight with a huge male. Injured and dies • Offspring is born in the undergrowth • First spread of conifers and • Has slightly more advanced speech than the amphibian Creature stalked through the forest of ferns. [Ends with mating and protecting the young for a while] • I'm assuming that these guys were cold blooded like modern lizards • They're moving away from the drying interior, crossing mountains, into a ferny foresty area where there should be plenty to eat.
Moving East, towards the coast (Australia)
The hot desert sun beat down upon the herd, cracking their skin and forcing them all to retreat into the shade where the sunlight was diluted. The climate was changing. As polar icecaps expanded, they drew moisture from the rest of Earth onto themselves, drying out the interiors of the continents and turning them into desert. Creatures herd inhabited what used to be a river floodplain, but was now in the advanced stages of becoming a desert. Thus far the herd had survived throughout the generations by chasing the retreating fern forests and by slow adaption to the new climate. The herd could not fully understand was happening, why moisture was being stripped from the air, but nevertheless the desertification was increasing.
Suddenly, the things that made life possible on the land that had sustained them was stripped out from underneath and became a barren stretch of rocky land where before rivers flowed. Only the most hardy plants could survive in this expanding area – only the plants with advanced water retention adaptions, such as seeds enclosed in a protective cover– but once equipped they effortlessly expanded into huge areas of land and afterwards diversified into many species.
Until, one day the leader of the herd, simply called Leader in Creature's mind, decided that they had to move permanently. There was no preparation; for preparation did not need to be done. He simply took his place at the head of the herd and began to walk, and the herd followed.
Episode one. The group began their march in the impossible heat of the desert. Through the heat haze on the ground, the herd of about 50 animals, could see the tough, inedible desert plants that sparsely populated the entire landscape. Leader led the herd through flat expanses into valley'd terrain, where the herd filed across the peaks of the valley hills, heading east.
One water source after the other had dried up or gone stagnant, and was not clean for drinking. Infants of the species raced towards the brown, stagnant water but stopped at the bellowed alarm from multiple adults. They were becoming desperate for water. Leader trudged up the side of the rocky outcrop and the group followed, bellowing with annoyance at having to leave the hole.
Creature walked at the slow, steady pace of the herd. He fell into a meditative-like lumbering gait, like that of an Arabian caravan, closing his eyes and keeping on track by feeling the sun on his left flank. Infants moved in the shade provided by adults, but the sun beat down on the eyes of all the herd, turning the landscape into a monotonous, blurry sandy-white.
[One of them has to abandon its young since they can't keep up with the group. Get plot ideas from Attenborough's work, this one is from Elephants in the Africa documentary.]
Creature lumbered on four sturdy, trunk-like legs onto the rocky outcrop and into the direct sunlight. He woke up early to beat many of the others of his species to the spot. Usually the best sunspots are defended with aggression and ferocity. But defending was easier than capturing. Creature sat, closed his eyes, and listened to the sounds of the environment. Around him his peers lumbered in, shifted their weight and eyed each other uneasily. Insects buzzed around, attracted to the dung piles and activity of the mass of animals. The wind blew the surrounding short ferns and their leaves rattled in unison. At a distance, surface water flowed downstream, and a large animal, far off in the distance, stamped its feet and bellowed and the sound rung out over the landscape. The white shade of the moon hung in the blue sky of the morning. Creature lived in the centre of the great Pangea continent, The mass of _____ gathered around the sun-bleached rocks. Creature's tail was bitten and a mild jap of pain seared up his tail, drawing blood. 'AAHROOOH' He snapped his around, and behind him was another large male facing straight towards him, mouth still open and teeth exposed. This body language issued a challenge. The aggressor let out a low, guttural growl. Creature noted the size of his shoulders and legs, and the scars on his body and face. This male was used to fighting. He fought for dominance, and reaped the rewards of intimidation. These genes had been passed on from one big bull to the next. Creature carried a few himself. Creature suppressed the instinct to grab his throat and instead slowly opened his mouth, bared his teeth, and lowered his head in a defensive gesture. The other male, satisfied in winning the psychological war rather than the physical one, gave a short, satisfied bellow and turned to harass another. Creature's sun spot wasn't quite high value enough. Prometheus felt its satisfaction with being one of the largest and most violent in a large and violent species. Hate it! Creature's thoughts were expressed not in words but feelings. He settles back down again amongst the mass of bodies and dozes off.
He awoke when it was time to feed. A group of ten, including three adolescents, broke off from the main mass of reptiles, and with much bellowing together made their way into the swamps. The coolness of the water jarred their bodies which had been baking in the sun all morning. The semi-stagnant water rose to their shoulders, but the group held their heads high and made their way to an outcrop of edible ferns growing in the water. They were wary. None were comfortable in water of any depth above their knees. It was one of the only times that the big animals felt vulnerable, where their stocky mass was less of a defensive boon and more of a hindrance. AAAhhhhhho Creature bellowed. He saw what they are after: ferns growing straight out of the water, their young shoots up above. His group moved straight towards them, with the exception of two of the three young animals, who broke off from the group, chasing each other. Parental investment had not yet developed at this point in animal history; after animals hatched they were on their own. But in some species, not entirely. This species had herding instincts, and would defend each other insofar as their own safety was not in serious danger. One of the females in the group gave a snort of annoyance at the adolescents who had left the safety of the group. Creature did not notice the seven pairs of eyes on the surface of the deeper water. Creature reached the first of the ferns, dug his claws in and pulled the fern down towards the water's surface. The newest shoots, often the best to eat because they had not yet grown hard, had already been eaten. He pushed off and looked for another. The others in the group found the same, and Creature and the others who were bold enough to look in the deeper water swam out further. The adolescents were distracted, still chasing after each other. The eyes in the water lowered, until they were barely discernible against the light wash on the water, and inched closer until they disappeared completely.
Creature screamed. The others looked at him as he fled towards the shoreline, and an instant later were following behind him. The adolescents, not understanding but still following their herd instincts, fell in line at the very back of the fleeing group. Without a sound, one disappeared under the water. Moments later it resurfaced in a different spot, catching its breath and bellowing. A second pair of eyes approached, and it was pulled under a second time. The group reached the shoreline and turned to watch the rest of the group swim in. Creature and the others bellowed together as they saw the young ____ resurface again, further out, before disappearing again, this time for good.
The herd moved on, striving for . They crossed rivers and forests of ferns, and finally reached mountains as they moved inland. The
Huge extinction event. Eruptions coated a continent in lava and acidified the oceans. 90% to 95% of marine species became extinct, as well as 70% of all land organisms.
Terrestrial life in the Permian included diverse plants, fungi, arthropods, and various types of tetrapods. The period saw a massive desert covering the interior of the Pangaea. The warm zone spread in the northern hemisphere, where extensive dry desert appeared. The rocks formed at that time were stained red by iron oxides, the result of intense heating by the sun of a surface devoid of vegetation cover. A number of older types of plants and animals died out or became marginal elements. The Permian began with the Carboniferous flora still flourishing. About the middle of the Permian a major transition in vegetation began. The swamp-loving lycopod trees of the Carboniferous, such as Lepidodendron and Sigillaria, were progressively replaced in the continental interior by the more advanced seed ferns and early conifers. At the close of the Permian, lycopod and equicete swamps reminiscent of Carboniferous flora were relegated to a series of equatorial islands in the Paleotethys Sea that later would become South China. The Permian saw the radiation of many important conifer groups, including the ancestors of many present-day families. Rich forests were present in many areas, with a diverse mix of plant groups. The southern continent saw extensive seed fern forests of the Glossopteris flora. Oxygen levels were probably high there. The ginkgos and cycads also appeared during this period. -Wikipedia, Permian
Large continental landmasses create climates with extreme variations of heat and cold ("continental climate") and monsoon conditions with highly seasonal rainfall patterns. Deserts seem to have been widespread on Pangaea. Such dry conditions favored gymnosperms, plants with seeds enclosed in a protective cover, over plants such as ferns that disperse spores. The first modern trees (conifers, ginkgos and cycads) appeared in the Permian…
The climate in the Permian was quite varied. At the start of the Permian, the Earth was still in an Ice Age, which began in the Carboniferous. Glaciers receded around the mid-Permian period as the climate gradually warmed, drying the continent's interiors. In the late Permian period, the drying continued although the temperature cycled between warm and cool cycles… Terrestrial life in the Permian included diverse plants, fungi, arthropods, and various types of tetrapods. The period saw a massive desert covering the interior of the Pangaea...
The swamp-loving lycopod trees of the Carboniferous, such as Lepidodendron and Sigillaria, were progressively replaced in the continental interior by the more advanced seed ferns and early conifers. At the close of the Permian, lycopod and equicete swamps reminiscent of Carboniferous flora were relegated to a series of equatorial islands…
-Wikipedia, Permian (I think)
From the Pennsylvanian Subperiod of the Carboniferous period until well into the Permian, the most successful Insects were primitive relatives of cockroaches. Six fast legs, four well developed folding wings, fairly good eyes, long, well developed antennae (olfactory), an omnivorous digestive system, a receptacle for storing sperm, a chitin-based exoskeleton that could support and protect, as well as a form of gizzard and efficient mouth parts, gave it formidable advantages over other herbivorous animals. About 90% of insects at the start of the Permian were cockroach-like insects ("Blattopterans"). Primitive forms of dragonflies (Odonata) were the dominant aerial predators and probably dominated terrestrial insect predation as well. True Odonata appeared in the Permian and all are effectively semi-aquatic insects (aquatic immature stages, and terrestrial adults), as are all modern odonates. Their prototypes are the oldest winged fossils, go back to the Devonian, and are different in several respects from the wings of other insects. Fossils suggest they may have possessed many modern attributes even by the late Carboniferous, and it is possible that they captured small vertebrates, for at least one species had a wing span of 71 centimetres (28 in). Several other insect groups appeared during the Permian, including the Coleoptera (beetles) and Hemiptera (true bugs). -Wikipedia, Permian
Dimetrodon was probably one of the top predators in Early Permian ecosystems, feeding on fish and tetrapods, including reptiles as well as amphibians. Smaller Dimetrodon species may have had different ecological roles. The sail of Dimetrodon may have been used to stabilize its spine or to heat and cool its body as a form of thermoregulation. Some recent studies argue that the sail would have been ineffective at removing heat from the body, and was more likely used in sexual display. -Wikipedia, Dimetrodon
Olson made many inferences on the paleoecology of the Texas Red beds and the role of Dimetrodon within its ecosystem. He proposed several main types of ecosystems in which the earliest tetrapods lived. Dimetrodon belonged to the most primitive ecosystem, which developed from aquatic food webs. In it, aquatic plants were the primary producers and were largely fed upon by fish and aquatic invertebrates. Most land vertebrates fed on these aquatic primary consumers. Dimetrodon was probably the top predator of the Red Beds ecosystem, feeding on a variety of organisms such as the large fish Xenacanthus, the aquatic amphibians Trimerorhachis and Diplocaulus, and the terrestrial tetrapods Seymouria and Trematops. Insects are known from the Early Permian Red Beds and were probably involved to some degree in the same food web as Dimetrodon, feeding small reptiles like Captorhinus. The Red Beds assemblage also included some of the first large land-living herbivores like Edaphosaurus and Diadectes. Feeding primarily on terrestrial plants, these herbivores did not derive their energy from aquatic food webs. According to Olson, the best modern analogue for the ecosystem Dimetrodon inhabited is the Everglades. The only species of Dimetrodon found outside the southwestern United States is Dimetrodon teutonis from Germany. Its remains were found in the Tambach Formation in a fossil site called the Bromacker locality. The Bromacker's assemblage of Early Permian tetrapods is unusual in that there are few large-bodied synapsids serving the role of top predators. D. teutonis is estimated to have been only 1.7 metres (5.6 ft) in length, too small to prey on the large diadectid herbivores that are abundant in the Bromacker assemblage. It more likely ate small vertebrates and insects. Only three fossils can be attributed to large predators, and they are thought to have been either large varanopids or small sphenacodonts, both of which could potentially prey on D. teutonis. In contrast to the lowland deltaic Red Beds of Texas, the Bromacker deposits are thought to have represented an upland environment with no aquatic species. It is possible that large-bodied carnivores were not part of the Bromacker assemblage because they were dependent on large aquatic amphibians for food. -Wikipedia, Dimetrodon
Diadectes is an extinct genus of large, very reptile-like amphibians that lived during the early Permian period (Cisuralian epochs, between 290 and 272 million years ago). Diadectes was one of the very first herbivorous tetrapods, and also one of the first fully terrestrial animals to attain large size. Diadectes was a heavily built animal, 1.5 to 3 meters long, with a thick-boned skull, heavy vertebrae and ribs, massive limb girdles and short, robust limbs. The nature of the limbs and vertebrae clearly indicate a terrestrial animal.
Biarmosuchus was a medium-sized predator, similar in size to a large dog, grew up to 1.5–2 m in length with a skull length 15 cm (immature) to 21 cm.It was a lightly built, probably agile animal that would have fed on smaller tetrapods.Their legs are quite long, and the animals were probably quite agile in spite of their size. A large opening for the eye and a small temple opening common in primitive mammal-like reptiles, this lends to a weak bite but how it ate is pure speculation.The teeth contained eight small incisors on the palate, followed by a canine tooth and a further five canine teeth. So together the species contained fourteen upper teeth and twelve lower teeth of small size.
- Wikipedia, Biarmosuchus
Sphenacodon is an extinct genus of synapsid that lived from about 300 to about 280 million years ago (Ma) during the Late Carboniferous and Early Permian periods. Like the closely related Dimetrodon, Sphenacodon was a carnivorous member of the Eupelycosauria family Sphenacodontidae. However, Sphenacodon had a low crest along its back, formed from blade-like bones on its vertebrae (neural spines) instead of the tall dorsal sail found in Dimetrodon.
This one lived a little bit later than the rest of the crew. It's off by a couple million years.