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The first nonmarine sediments in the rift that marks the initial break-up of Pangaea, which separated New Jersey from Morocco, are of Late Triassic age; in the U.S., these thick sediments comprise the Newark Group.Three categories of organisms can be distinguished in the Triassic record: holdovers from the Permian-Triassic extinction, new groups which flourished briefly, and other new groups which went on to dominate the Mesozoic Era.

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Sediments and fossils suggestive of a more humid climate are known from the Anisian to Ladinian of the Tethysian domain, and from the Carnian and Rhaetian of a larger area that includes also the Boreal domain (e.g., Svalbard Islands), the North American continent, the South China block and Argentina.The best studied of such episodes of humid climate, and probably the most intense and widespread, was the Carnian Pluvial Event.The Triassic continental interior climate was generally hot and dry, so that typical deposits are red bed sandstones and evaporites.There is no evidence of glaciation at or near either pole; in fact, the polar regions were apparently moist and temperate, providing a climate suitable for forests and vertebrates, including reptiles.Pangaea's large size limited the moderating effect of the global ocean; its continental climate was highly seasonal, with very hot summers and cold winters.

The Triassic may have mostly been a dry period, but evidence exists that it was punctuated by several episodes of increased rainfall in tropical and subtropical latitudes of the Tethys Sea and its surrounding land.Thus Triassic stratigraphy is mostly based on organisms that lived in lagoons and hypersaline environments, such as Estheria crustaceans.At the beginning of the Mesozoic Era, Africa was joined with Earth's other continents in Pangaea.The spermatophytes, or seed plants, came to dominate the terrestrial flora: in the northern hemisphere, conifers, ferns and bennettitales flourished.Glossopteris (a seed fern) was the dominant southern hemisphere tree during the Early Triassic period. The shelled cephalopods called ammonites recovered, diversifying from a single line that survived the Permian extinction.The vast supercontinent of Pangaea existed until the mid-Triassic, after which it began to gradually rift into two separate landmasses, Laurasia to the north and Gondwana to the south.