Published online by Cambridge University Press: 26 July 2017
The process of photosynthesis is critical to the existence of almost all the Earth's ecosystems by providing the fundamental mechanism through which the Sun's energy is harnessed to convert carbon dioxide and water into sugars and oxygen. These sugars ultimately provide the basic source of energy (primary production) on which most life depends. In terrestrial ecosystems macroscopic land plants are responsible for virtually all primary production and therefore provide the basic sustenance that supports all land animals, either directly or indirectly. An accurate knowledge of Mesozoic plants and vegetation is therefore critical to understanding the ecology of dinosaurs and the ecosystems in which they flourished. Similarly, because large herbivorous dinosaurs must have exerted a major influence on terrestrial ecosystems some knowledge of dinosaur biology is crucial to understanding the ecological pressures to which Mesozoic plants were subjected. Because there is also a close correlation between the climate of an area and the kind of vegetation that it supports, fossil plants also provide important evidence on the paleoclimates of the dinosaur world.