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Age of Dinosaurs

Cretaceous Asia

A map of Asia in Cretaceous timesA map of Asia in Cretaceous times Across the world during the Cretaceous Period, there was only about half as much dry land as there is today. The oceans covered a much greater part of the Earth’s surface than they do now. Most of the land that existed formed part of largest continent, Asia. The south of Asia, where the massive Himalaya Mountains now rise beween the Indian subcontinent and Tibet, was a chain of islands and lagoons in Cretaceous times. India was still far away from the rest of Asia. A wealth of dinosaur fossils from Cretaceous Asia, including those of a number of feathered species, have been found in Mongolia and China.

Life on the dry plains

Dinosaurs from Mongolia in the Late CretaceousDinosaurs from Mongolia in the Late CretaceousToday, most of Mongolia is dry, cold and windy. About 80 million years ago it was just as dry, but rather warmer. Bushes and shrubs grew in the sandy soil of the Gobi Desert, interspersed with lush areas of forest. The tank-like ankylosaur, Saichania, 6 metres (20 feet) long, munched low plants. Protected by spikes and bony studs, it stood ready to hammer any predator that came too near with its club-ended tail.

The fastest runner of the time was Gallimimus. It was very similar in size and shape to the ostrich of today, except that it had a long, bony tail, and scales rather than feathers. It probably pecked for roots, seeds, insects, worms and lizards with its toothless beak.

In the Late Cretaceous, part of Asia was joined to North America to form what is geologists call "Asiamerica". This explains why many of the same types of Cretaceous dinosaur were found in both North America and Asia: for example, the anklyosaurs, ceratopsians, dromaeosaurs and tyrannosaurs.

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