Let’s get one thing straight right now: Transylvania has a dinosaur park. Dwarf dinosaurs. And giant flying reptiles.
Wait! Before rushing off to book a flight, check it out:
This area was an archipelago of islands 90 million years ago because continental collisions had not yet closed off the Tethys Sea (called Tethyshavet here):
Tethys was a tropical sea and also part of a vast current of warm water that encircled the globe–a major reason why Earth was as toasty as a greenhouse during the dinosaur age and the early age of mammals. (Carroll)
This may even have played a role in the evolution of cats, though I’m just speculating here. After ice appeared in Antarctica and elsewhere during the “icehouse-greenhouse” transition of the Eocene and Oligocene epochs, things remained warm in lands whose coasts were bathed in Tethys waters (at least until Eurasia, Arabia, India, and Africa started jammin’ and completely blocked the global circulation of tropical water).
Very old mammal lineages lived on in the European archipelago for a while, even after their relatives in chillier parts had died off. Among these were very early carnivorans, some of whom likely were distant ancestors of the first cats, which later appeared in this part of the world during the Miocene.
OK, now we’re on subject matter that must wait until at least two of my cat-evolution ebooks have been published and I’m still working on the final draft of book #1 about the domestic cat today.
Go to Transylvania and see the dinosaurs of Hateg!
Agustí, J. 2007. The biotic environments of the late Miocene hominids, in Handbook of Paleoanthropology. Vol. 2: Primate Evolution and Human Origins, Henke W. & Tattersall I. (eds), 979–1009. Springer, Berlin.
Agustí, J., and Antón, M. 2002. Mammoths, sabertooths, and hominids: 65 million years of mammalian evolution in Europe. New York and Chichester: Columbia University Press.
Carroll, R. L. 1988. Vertebrate paleontology and evolution. New York: W.H. Freeman and Company.
Francis, J. E., Marenssi, S., Levy, R., Hambrey, M., Thorn, V. T., Mohr, B., Brinkhuis, H., Warnaar, J., Zachos, J., Bohaty, S., and DeConto, R. 2009. From greenhouse to icehouse – the Eocene/Oligocene in Antarctica, in Developments in Earth and Environmental Sciences, Vol. 8, eds. Florindo, F., and Siegert, M., 311–372. Elsevier.
Hateg UNESCO Global Geopark (Romania). 2017. http://www.unesco.org/new/en/natural-sciences/environment/earth-sciences/unesco-global-geoparks/list-of-unesco-global-geoparks/romania/hateg/ Last accessed June 17, 2018.
Lyle, M., Barron, J., Bralower, T. J., Huber, M., Olivarez Lyle, A., Ravelo, A. C., Rea, D. K., and Wilson, P. A. 2008. Pacific Ocean and Cenozoic evolution of climate. Reviews of Geophysics. 46. RG2002.
Prothero, D. r. 2006. After the Dinosaurs: The Age of Mammals. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press. Retrieved from https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=Qh82IW-HHWAC
Zachos, J., Pagani, M., Sloan, L., Thomas, E., and Billups, K. 2001. Trends, Rhythms, and Aberrations in Global Climate 65 Ma to Present. Science. 292:686-693.