The era of geologic time from about 245 to 65 million years ago. The Mesozoic Era was characterized by a drastic change in plants and animals. In the early part of the Mesozoic, ferns, cycads, and ginkgos were dominant; later, gymnosperms and angiosperms developed. Dinosaurs also first appeared in the Mesozoic and, with the exception of birds, became extinct at the end of the era. See Chart at geologic time.