The Paleozoic era, meaning “ancient life”, is a division of earth’s history spanning from around 541 to 252 million years ago. It is subdivided into the Cambrian, Ordovician, Silurian, Devonian, Carboniferous and Permian periods. The beginning of the Paleozoic is characterised by the sudden appearance of animal ecosystems following the extinction of the Precambrian Ediacaran fauna. The end of the Paleozoic is marked by the greatest mass extinction in earth’s history, following which global ecosystems were radically reorganised.

Cambrian

A briggsi holotype

Episode 31: Anomalocaridids

Published on July 15th, 2014 | by Laura Soul

Anomalocaridids are iconic Cambrian animals, originally found in the Burgess Shale deposits in Canada. From the Genus Anomalocaris, their name translates as ‘strange shrimp’ owing to their initial misidentification from incomplete remains. In fact, it took until ... Read More


Cambrian

animal-21649_640

Episode 29: Medusae

Published on June 1st, 2014 | by Dave Marshall

One of the longest-ranging and outwardly primitive-looking groups of animals on the planet are the Medusozoa. In consisting of around 95% water, it may be surprising to know that there is a fossil record of jellyfish, ... Read More


Cambrian

Starfish

Episode 28: From worms to stars

Published on May 1st, 2014 | by Joe Keating

Echinoderms are characterised by a mineralised skeleton, specialised water vascular system and five-fold symmetry. It is this unusual body plane symmetry that gives the starfish its star-shape. None of these features, however, are possessed by the closest ... Read More


Cenozoic

Dried fish

Episode 23: Mass extinctions

Published on December 1st, 2013 | by Dave Marshall

What are Mass extinctions, how are they quantified, what are the driving forces behind them, how bad were the ones in the past and will we have more in the future? To answer these questions we ... Read More


Carboniferous

36 Oxroadia detail

Episode 22: Fire and Charcoal

Published on October 15th, 2013 | by Dave Marshall

Most people would consider fire to be an entirely destructive process, however given the right circumstances organic materials can be exquisitely preserved by charcoalification. We no doubt all know charcoal from the BBQ, but how many of ... Read More


Paleozoic

Psychopyge

Episode 18: Trilobites

Published on July 1st, 2013 | by Dave Marshall

Trilobites are one of the most instantly recognisable groups of fossils. They were present from the very start of the Paleozoic and went on the fill a great number of ecological roles before going extinct at the Permo-Triassic ... Read More


Devonian

crop_ammonite

Episode 17: Ammonoid evolution and ecology

Published on June 1st, 2013 | by Joe Keating

Ammonoids are a diverse group of cephalopods, a group of molluscs that include squid, octopuses, cuttlefish and nautiloids. They lived for over 300 million years (from the Early Devonian – the end Cretaceous) and survived multiple ... Read More


Cambrian

Alitta virens

Episode 12: Paleozoic Problematica

Published on February 15th, 2013 | by Dave Marshall

Fossils, at the best of times, are difficult to interpret. Palaeontologists attempt to reconstruct organisms from what little remains are left. This can be relatively simple for groups that we are familiar with today; you can ... Read More


Carboniferous

resplate

Episode 10: Carboniferous Arthropods

Published on January 15th, 2013 | by Dave Marshall

The first animals came onto land sometime before 425 Ma. These early colonizers were members of a group called the arthropods – probably early relatives of the millipedes first, followed shortly by arachnids, and then insects ... Read More


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