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Paleozoic Era
IMG 20181020 085727.jpg
Temporal information
Time span541-252 Mya
Part ofPhanerozoic Eon
  • Cambrian
    • Terreneuvian
      • Fortunian
      • Age 2
    • Epoch 2
      • Age 3
      • Age 4
    • Epoch 3
      • Age 5
      • Drumian
      • Guzhangian
    • Furongian
      • Paibian
      • Jiangshanian
      • Age 10
  • Ordovician
    • Early Ordovician
      • Tremadocian
      • Floian
    • Middle Ordovician
      • Dapingian
      • Darriwilian
    • Late Ordovician
      • Sandbian
      • Katian
      • Hirnantian
  • Silurian
    • Llandovery
      • Rhuddanian
      • Aeronian
      • Telychian
    • Wenlock
      • Sheinwoodian
      • Homerian
    • Ludlow
      • Gorstian
      • Ludfordian
    • Pridoli
  • Devonian
    • Early Devonian
      • Lochkovian
      • Pragian
      • Emsian
    • Middle Devonian
      • Eifelian
      • Givetian
    • Late Devonian
      • Frasnian
      • Famennian
  • Carboniferous
    • Mississippian
      • Tournaisian
      • Viséan
      • Serpukhovian
    • Pennsylvanian
      • Bashkirian
      • Moscovian
      • Kasimovian
      • Gzhelian
  • Permian
    • Cisuralian
      • Asselian
      • Sakmarian
      • Artinskian
      • Kungarian
    • Guadalupian
      • Roadian
      • Wordian
      • Capitanian
    • Lopingian
      • Wuchiapingian
      • Changhsingian
Chronological information
Previous period
Proterozoic eon

(Precambrian Supereon)

Following period
Mesozoic Era

Paleozoic means "ancient life", and it was the time period when multicellular animals started to explode in evolution, as evidenced by the fossil record.


The Paleozoic (or Palaeozoic) Era is the earliest of three geologic eras of the Phanerozoic Eon, spanning from roughly 541 to 252.2 MYA (ICS, 2004). It is the longest of the Phanerozoic eras, and is subdivided into six geologic periods (from oldest to least old): 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 period 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. Fish, arthropods, amphibians and reptiles 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 reptiles were dominant and the first modern plants (conifers) appeared.

The Paleozoic Era ended with the largest mass extinction in Earth's history, 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 to recover.Recovery of life in the sea may have been much faster.

Paleozoic Periods

Image period title Time span
Trilobite gang.jpg Cambrian 541-485 MYA
Ordovician.jpg Ordovician 485-443 MYA
SilurianPeriod.png Silurian 443-419 MYA
Devonian.jpg Devonian 419-358 MYA
Carboniferous Period.png Carboniferous 358-299 MYA
WWM1x3 GorgonopsRunning.png Permian 298-252 MYA

Animals in the Paleozoic