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FOSSILS FROM THE PRECAMBRIAN AND PALAEOZOIC ERAS

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Home > FOSSILS > FOSSILS FROM THE PRECAMBRIAN AND PALAEOZOIC ERAS

THE EARLIEST FOSSILS

This page contains fossils older than 250 million years, i.e fossils from the Precambrian and Palaeozoic eras.    Click here for a detailed geological timescale  

The Precambrian Era is the largest division of time in Earth history and extends from the formation of the Earth, 4.6 billion years ago, to the beginning of the Palaeozoic Era about 550 million years ago.  Life is thought to have originated on Earth about 3.8 billion years ago but for much of the Precambrian it consisted only of simple, single-celled organisms that left no trace.  

The Palaeozoic Era was a time of dramatic evolutionary change with the arrival of complex organisms which diversified in the oceans and, about 420 million years ago, finally colonised the land.  It was in the Palaeozoic that the ancestors of most of the modern groups of animals appeared.  Common marine fossils from this time include trilobites, graptolites, brachiopods, crinoids, corals and fish.  Late in the Palaeozoic the great Carboniferous coal forests appeared on land which have given us spectacular fossil ferns and other plants.