The Paleozoic (or Palaeozoic) Era ( ; 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.
Selected article on the Paleozoic world and its legacies
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
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...)
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