Portal:Paleozoic

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The Paleozoic Portal

Tiktaalik BW flopped.jpg

Introduction

The Paleozoic (or Palaeozoic) Era ( /ˌpliəˈzɪk, ˌpæ-/; from the Greek palaios (παλαιός), "old" and zoe (ζωή), "life", meaning "ancient life") is the earliest of three geologic eras of the Phanerozoic Eon. It is the longest of the Phanerozoic eras, lasting from 541 to 251.902 million years ago, and is subdivided into six geologic periods (from oldest to youngest): the Cambrian, Ordovician, Silurian, Devonian, Carboniferous, and Permian. The Paleozoic comes after the Neoproterozoic Era of the Proterozoic Eon and is followed by the Mesozoic Era.

The Paleozoic was a time of dramatic geological, climatic, and evolutionary change. The Cambrian witnessed the most rapid and widespread diversification of life in Earth's history, known as the Cambrian explosion, in which most modern phyla first appeared. Arthropods, molluscs, fish, amphibians, synapsids and diapsids all evolved during the Paleozoic. Life began in the ocean but eventually transitioned onto land, and by the late Paleozoic, it was dominated by various forms of organisms. Great forests of primitive plants covered the continents, many of which formed the coal beds of Europe and eastern North America. Towards the end of the era, large, sophisticated diapsids and synapsids were dominant and the first modern plants (conifers) appeared.

The Paleozoic Era ended with the largest extinction event in the history of Earth, the Permian–Triassic extinction event. The effects of this catastrophe were so devastating that it took life on land 30 million years into the Mesozoic Era to recover. Recovery of life in the sea may have been much faster.

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Selected article on the Paleozoic world and its legacies

Fossil of Opabinia regalis from the Burgess shale on display at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC..
Opabinia is an extinct stem-arthropod genus found in Cambrian fossil deposits. The only known species, O. regalis, is known from the Middle Cambrian Burgess Shale Lagerstätte of British Columbia, Canada. Fewer than twenty good specimens have been described. Opabinia was a soft-bodied animal of modest size, and its segmented body had lobes along the sides and a fan-shaped tail. The head shows unusual features: five eyes, a mouth under the head and facing backwards, and a proboscis that probably passed food to the mouth. Opabinia probably lived on the seafloor, using the proboscis to seek out small, soft food.

When the first thorough examination of Opabinia in 1975 revealed its unusual features, it was thought to be unrelated to any known phylum, although possibly related to a hypothetical ancestor of arthropods and of annelid worms. However other finds, most notably Anomalocaris, suggested that it belonged to a group of animals that were closely related to the ancestors of arthropods and of which the living animals onychophorans and tardigrades may also be members.(see more...)

Selected article on the Paleozoic in human science, culture and economics

Edward Drinker Cope (left) and Othniel Charles Marsh (right).
Bone Sharps, Cowboys, and Thunder Lizards: A Tale of Edward Drinker Cope, Othniel Charles Marsh, and the Gilded Age of Paleontology (2005) is a graphic novel written by Jim Ottaviani and illustrated by the company Big Time Attic. The book tells a slightly fictionalized account of the Bone Wars, a period of intense excavation, speculation, and rivalry which led to a greater understanding of dinosaurs in the western United States. This novel is the first semi-fictional work written by Ottaviani; previously, he had taken no creative license with the characters he depicted, portraying them strictly according to historical sources.

Bone Sharps follows the two scientists Edward Drinker Cope and Othniel Marsh as they engage in an intense rivalry for prestige. Ottaviani has Cope and Marsh interact and meet many important figures of the Gilded Age, from P. T. Barnum to U.S. Grant, as the two scientists pursue their hotheaded and sometimes illegal acquisitions of fossils. Unlike in his previous books, "the scientists are the bad guys this time". Upon release, the novel received praise from critics for its exceptional historical content, although some reviewers wished more fiction had been woven into the story. (see more...)

Selected image

Laelaps by Charles R. Knight.

Life restoration of Tiktaalik roseae.
Photo credit: Nobu Tamura

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Restoration Tambachia.

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Topics

Geochronology - Cambrian (Early - Middle - Late) - Ordovician (Early - Middle - Late) - Silurian (Early - Wenlock - Ludlow - Late) - Devonian (Early - Middle - Late) - Carboniferous (Mississippian - Pennsylvanian)- Permian (Early - Middle - Late)

Paleozoic landmasses - Pannotia - Baltica - Laurentia - Siberia - Avalonia -Gondwanaland - Laurentia - Euramerica - Gondwana - South China- Pangaea

Major Paleozoic events - Cambrian Explosion - Cambrian substrate revolution - End-Botomian mass extinction - Cambrian–Ordovician extinction event

Cambrian biota appearances - Brachiopods - Burgess shale fauna - Cephalopods - Chitons - Crustaceans - Echinoderms - Foraminiferans - Graptolites - Radiolarians -Trilobites - Vertebrates

Ordovician biota appearances - Conodonts - Echinoids

Silurian biota appearances - Fungi - Galeaspids - Heterostracans - Land plants - Pituriaspids -Ray-finned fishes - Scorpions - Trigonotarbids

Devonian biota appearances - Crabs - Ferns - Harvestmen - Lichens - Lycophytes - Mites -Springtails - Stoneworts - Trimerophytes

Carboniferous biota appearances - Amphibians - Hagfishes - Insects - Ratfishes - Reptiles -Synapsids

Permian biota appearances - Beetles - Pelycosaurs - Temnospondyls - Therapsids

Fossil sites - Bear Gulch Limestone - Beecher's Trilobite Bed - Gilboa Forest - Grenfell fossil site - Hamilton Quarry - Mazon Creek fossil beds - Mississippi Petrified Forest - Walcott Quarry - Walcott–Rust quarry - Yea Flora Fossil Site

Stratigraphic units - Burgess Shale - Chazy Formation - Columbus Limestone - Fezouata formation - Francis Creek Shale - Gogo Formation - Holston Formation - Hunsrück Slate - Jeffersonville Limestone - Karoo Supergroup - Keyser Formation - Kope Formation - Llewellyn Formation - Mahantango Formation - Maotianshan Shales - Marcellus Formation - Millstone Grit - New Albany Shale - Old Port Formation - Old Red Sandstone - Potsdam Sandstone - Red Beds of Texas and Oklahoma - Rhynie chert - Shawangunk Formation - St. Peter Sandstone - Tuscarora Formation

History - History of paleontology - Timeline of paleontology - The Great Devonian Controversy

Researchers - Charles Emerson Beecher - Ermine Cowles Case - Edward Drinker Cope - Henry De la Beche - Stephen Jay Gould - Increase A. Lapham - Charles Lapworth - Simon Conway Morris - Roderick Murchison - Alfred Sherwood Romer - Neil Shubin - Charles Doolittle Walcott

Culture - Animal Armageddon - The Day The Earth Nearly Died - List of creatures in the Walking with... series - Lost Worlds, Vanished Lives - Miracle Planet - Prehistoric Park - Sea Monsters - Treatise on Invertebrate Paleontology - Vertebrate Paleontology - Walking with Monsters - Wonderful Life

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