|Lagerpetid by Rodolfo Nogueira|
As we’ve seen, the Triassic was a period filled with all manner of charismatic animals, including reptilian platypuses and whales, praying mantis-like drepanosaurs, semi-aquatic dragons, pseudosuchian dinosaur mimics, and everything in between. We have not, however, in our Triassic adventures, yet directly touched on the typical touchstones of Mesozoic diversity: pterosaurs and dinosaurs. In part, that has been intentional: why focus on dinosaurs when there are so many other wonderful animals to learn about during the Triassic? But another, perhaps more interesting, reason is that dinosaurs and pterosaurs simply weren’t a particularly large or diverse component of Triassic ecosystems until the very end. I would argue that the dinosaur's reign didn’t really begin until the Triassic-Jurassic extinction event removed their pseudosuchian competitors. Pterosaurs, too, diversified during the Jurassic, although I'm not sure if anything was keeping them down before. Anyway, until the Jurassic, these would-be prehistoric paragons were living in the shadows of predatory rauisuchians, herbivorous aetosaurs, giant dicynodonts, and semi-aquatic phytosaurs. No revolution, however, comes from nothing. Dinosaurs and pterosaurs had ancestors too, and in this essay, we’ll focus on one their most distant relatives, the lagerpetids.