Late Cretaceous Period

During the Late Cretaceous, land and seas continued to change and move. The climate of the world changed toward cooler and more seasonal weather. New types of plants and animals were appearing. An amazing collection of dinosaurs had evolved. Some had become advanced, even caring for their young. Dinosaurs, at first plentiful, disappeared from the earth by the end of the period.

The tyrannosaur Daspletosaurus
Canadian Museum of Nature
The tyrannosaur Daspletosaurus

The continents continued to separate during the Late Cretaceous. North and South America moved west into the Pacific Ocean, and the North and South Atlantic Oceans widened. India continued to move north toward Asia. Still joined together, Australia and Antarctica journeyed away from Africa, going beyond the South Pole.

Get to know the Late Cretaceous dinosaurs.
Check out these individual profiles:

Abelisaurus Edmontosaurus Pinacosaurus
Albertosaurus Elmisaurus Prenocephale
Anchiceratops Erlikosaurus Prosaurolophus
Ankylosaurus Euoplocephalus Protoceratops
Anserimimus Gallimimus Saichania
Antarctosaurus Garudimimus Saltasaurus
Aralosaurus Goyocephale Saurolophus
Argyrosaurus Hadrosaurus Sauroornithoides
Arrhinoceratops Harpymimus Segnosaurus
Aublysodon Homalocephale Shamosaurus
Avaceratops Hypacrosaurus Shanshanosaurus
Avimimus Kritosaurus Shantungosaurus
Bactrosaurus Lambeosaurus Spinosaurus
Bagaceratops Leptoceratops Stegoceras
Brachyceratops Maiasaura Struthiomimus
Brachylophosaurus Monoclonius Styracosaurus
Centrosaurus Nanotyrannus Talarurus
Chasmosaurus Opisthocoelicaudia Tarchia
Conchoraptor Ornithomimus Therizinosaurus
Corythosaurus Orodromeus Thescelosaurus
Daspletosaurus Oviraptor Torosaurus
Deinocheirus Pachycephalosaurus Triceratops
Denversaurus Pachyrhinosaurus Troodon
Dromaeosaurus Panoplosaurus Tylocephale
Dromiceiomimus Parasaurolophus Tyrannosaurus
­Dryptosaurus Parksosaurus Velociraptor
Edmontonia Pentaceratops

A shallow sea covered North America's middle. About halfway through the Late Cretaceous, Alaska butted up against Siberia. Eastern Asia and western North America were a single land mass called Beringia. The North American part of Beringia was tropical and swampy. The Asian section was dryer. The link from Eurasia to North America began to break. South America remained isolated throughout most of the Late Cretaceous. Australia and Antarctica remained joined around the South Pole, and Eurasia and Africa never drifted far apart.

Flowering plants spread rapidly throughout the northern hemisphere in the early Late Cretaceous, appearing first as small weeds. They quickly became the most important land plants. They provided a dense clutter of leaves, stems, and branches. In drier areas, flowering plants became underbrush. Able to grow rapidly after being eaten or trampled, flowering plants fed a larger number of animals.

During the early Late Cretaceous, the climate was warm. As the period came to a close, the average climate became cooler, but it was still much warmer than today. By the end of the period, the tropics were only in areas near the equator. The climate in the farther northern and southern hemispheres (and polar regions) became temperate and more seasonal, with cool winters and warm summers. Forests in the temperate zones became less tropical, with magnolias, sassafras, redwoods, and willow trees plentiful.