Great plant-eating dinosaurs roaming the earth, feeding on lush growths of ferns and palm-like cycads and bennettitaleans. . . smaller but vicious carnivores stalking the great herbivores. . . oceans full of fish, squid, and coiled ammonites, plus great ichthyosaurs and long-necked plesiosaurs. . . vertebrates taking to the air, like the pterosaurs and the first birds. . . this was the Jurassic Period, beginning approximately 210 million years ago and lasting for 70 million years of the Mesozoic Era.
Named for the Jura Mountains on the border between France and Switzerland, where rocks of this age were first studied, the Jurassic has become a household word with the success of the movie Jurassic Park. Outside of Hollywood, the Jurassic is still important to us today, both because of its wealth of fossils and because of its economic importance -- the oilfields of the North Sea, for instance, are Jurassic in age.
Click on the buttons below to learn more about the Jurassic.
The chart at left shows the major subdivisions of the Jurassic Period. This chart is also mapped to take you back in time to the Triassic, or forward to the Cretaceous.
The Jurassic Period is part of the Mesozoic Era.
Find out more about the Jurassic paleontology and geology of North America at the Paleontology Portal.