The Precambrian is a division of Earth’s history spanning from the formation of the planet some 4.6 billion years ago, to the sudden and abundant occurrence of animal life at the beginning of the Cambrian period around 541 million years ago. It accounts for 88% of the geological record. Through the course of the Precambrian, the earth was transformed from a volatile volcanic planet with a noxious CO2 based atmosphere into a much more familiar world with an atmosphere comparable to the present. The earliest Precambrian was a chaotic period during which the earth was under heavy barrage from meteors. Later the planet cooled and the oceans formed. Life originated and began to change the planet forever. The evolution of photosynthesising bacteria radically changed the atmosphere of our world. Complex cells evolved. The latest Precambrian was characterised by the most catastrophic ice ages in earth’s history. The so called ‘snowball earth’ glaciations covered the planet in ice from the poles to the equator. During the last 100 million years of the Precambrian, the first multi cellular animals appeared. The Ediacaran fauna, which is found in rocks of the same age globally, seems to have flourished for a time before disappearing at the end of the Precambrian.


Episode 123: Soil

Published on March 16th, 2021 | by Elsa Panciroli

Terrestrial life as we know it couldn’t exist without soil. Soil is a layer of minerals, organic matter, liquids, gasses and organisms that not only provides a medium for plant growth, but also modifies the atmosphere, [&hellip... Read More


Episode 104: Ediacaran Developmental Biology

Published on October 15th, 2019 | by David Marshall

The Ediacaran Period is host to the first large and complex multicellular organisms known in the fossil record. This ‘Ediacaran Biota’ has long eluded definitive placement on the tree of life, seemingly falling between even the [&hellip... Read More


Episode 84: Neoproterozoic Acritarchs

Published on January 6th, 2018 | by David Marshall

Geology, as a subject, has for the most part assumed that there were no fossils to be found earlier than the Cambrian period. In the current day, we’re better-informed and are able to find good records [&hellip... Read More


International Symposium on the Ediacaran-Cambrian Transition

Published on September 26th, 2017 | by David Marshall

The International Symposium on the Ediacaran-Cambrian Transition took place in St. John’s, Newfoundland, in June 2017. The ISECT meeting brought together 150 researchers working on aspects of the stratigraphy, sedimentology, geochemistry and palaeobiology of the Ediacaran [&hellip... Read More


Life, molecules and the geological record

Published on February 17th, 2017 | by Guest Blogger

To understand the evolution of life, palaeontologists can employ a variety of techniques. This typically involves the visual identification of fossils, like bones or teeth, within the sedimentary record, either by eye or using a microscope. [&hellip... Read More


Episode 50: Rangeomorph Reproduction

Published on August 14th, 2015 | by David Marshall

On today’s episode we’re revisiting Mistaken Point, Newfoundland, Canada. At this lagerstätte it is possible to find large bedding planes full of Precambrian organisms called rangeomorphs. These are an enigmatic group, which still can’t be placed on the ‘tree of [&hellip... Read More


Evolution and Early Life

Published on September 4th, 2014 | by David Marshall

Evolution and Early Life: A Celebration of the Career of Martin Brasier on his Retirement To commemorate the retirement of Oxford University’s Professor Martin Brasier, a small symposium was held to which Palaeocast were invited to film. [&hellip... Read More


Episode 16: Multicellularity in cyanobacteria

Published on May 1st, 2013 | by David Marshall

One of the most significant events in Earth’s history has been the oxygenation of its atmosphere 2.45–2.32 billion years ago. This accumulation of molecular oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere was so significant that it is now commonly known as the [&hellip... Read More

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