The Cambrian Period was the first geological period of the Paleozoic Era, of the Phanerozoic Eon. The Cambrian lasted 55.6 million years from the end of the preceding Ediacaran Period 541 million years ago to the beginning of the Ordovician Period 485.4 mya. Its subdivisions, its base, are somewhat in flux; the period was established by Adam Sedgwick, who named it after Cambria, the Latin name of Wales, where Britain's Cambrian rocks are best exposed. The Cambrian is unique in its unusually high proportion of lagerstätte sedimentary deposits, sites of exceptional preservation where "soft" parts of organisms are preserved as well as their more resistant shells; as a result, our understanding of the Cambrian biology surpasses that of some periods. The Cambrian marked a profound change in life on Earth. Complex, multicellular organisms became more common in the millions of years preceding the Cambrian, but it was not until this period that mineralized—hence fossilized—organisms became common; the rapid diversification of life forms in the Cambrian, known as the Cambrian explosion, produced the first representatives of all modern animal phyla.
Phylogenetic analysis has supported the view that during the Cambrian radiation, metazoa evolved monophyletically from a single common ancestor: flagellated colonial protists similar to modern choanoflagellates. Although diverse life forms prospered in the oceans, the land is thought to have been comparatively barren—with nothing more complex than a microbial soil crust and a few molluscs that emerged to browse on the microbial biofilm. Most of the continents were dry and rocky due to a lack of vegetation. Shallow seas flanked the margins of several continents created during the breakup of the supercontinent Pannotia; the seas were warm, polar ice was absent for much of the period. Despite the long recognition of its distinction from younger Ordovician rocks and older Precambrian rocks, it was not until 1994 that the Cambrian system/period was internationally ratified; the base of the Cambrian lies atop a complex assemblage of trace fossils known as the Treptichnus pedum assemblage. The use of Treptichnus pedum, a reference ichnofossil to mark the lower boundary of the Cambrian, is difficult since the occurrence of similar trace fossils belonging to the Treptichnids group are found well below the T. pedum in Namibia and Newfoundland, in the western USA.
The stratigraphic range of T. pedum overlaps the range of the Ediacaran fossils in Namibia, in Spain. The Cambrian Period was followed by the Ordovician Period; the Cambrian is divided into ten ages. Only three series and six stages are named and have a GSSP; because the international stratigraphic subdivision is not yet complete, many local subdivisions are still used. In some of these subdivisions the Cambrian is divided into three series with locally differing names – the Early Cambrian, Middle Cambrian and Furongian. Rocks of these epochs are referred to as belonging to Upper Cambrian. Trilobite zones allow biostratigraphic correlation in the Cambrian; each of the local series is divided into several stages. The Cambrian is divided into several regional faunal stages of which the Russian-Kazakhian system is most used in international parlance: *Most Russian paleontologists define the lower boundary of the Cambrian at the base of the Tommotian Stage, characterized by diversification and global distribution of organisms with mineral skeletons and the appearance of the first Archaeocyath bioherms.
The International Commission on Stratigraphy list the Cambrian period as beginning at 541 million years ago and ending at 485.4 million years ago. The lower boundary of the Cambrian was held to represent the first appearance of complex life, represented by trilobites; the recognition of small shelly fossils before the first trilobites, Ediacara biota earlier, led to calls for a more defined base to the Cambrian period. After decades of careful consideration, a continuous sedimentary sequence at Fortune Head, Newfoundland was settled upon as a formal base of the Cambrian period, to be correlated worldwide by the earliest appearance of Treptichnus pedum. Discovery of this fossil a few metres below the GSSP led to the refinement of this statement, it is the T. pedum ichnofossil assemblage, now formally used to correlate the base of the Cambrian. This formal designation allowed radiometric dates to be obtained from samples across the globe that corresponded to the base of the Cambrian. Early dates of 570 million years ago gained favour, though the methods used to obtain this number are now considered to be unsuitable and inaccurate.
A more precise date using modern radiometric dating yield a date of 541 ± 0.3 million years ago. The ash horizon in Oman from which this date was recovered corresponds to a marked fall in the abundance of carbon-13 that correlates to equivalent excursions elsewhere in the world, to the disappearance of distinctive Ediacaran fossils. There are arguments that the dated horizon in Oman does not correspond to the Ediacaran-Cambrian boundary, but represents a facies change from marine to evaporite-dominated strata — which w
The Triassic is a geologic period and system which spans 50.6 million years from the end of the Permian Period 251.9 million years ago, to the beginning of the Jurassic Period 201.3 Mya. The Triassic is the shortest period of the Mesozoic Era. Both the start and end of the period are marked by major extinction events. Triassic began in the wake of the Permian–Triassic extinction event, which left the Earth's biosphere impoverished. Therapsids and archosaurs were the chief terrestrial vertebrates during this time. A specialized subgroup of archosaurs, called dinosaurs, first appeared in the Late Triassic but did not become dominant until the succeeding Jurassic Period; the first true mammals, themselves a specialized subgroup of therapsids evolved during this period, as well as the first flying vertebrates, the pterosaurs, like the dinosaurs, were a specialized subgroup of archosaurs. The vast supercontinent of Pangaea existed until the mid-Triassic, after which it began to rift into two separate landmasses, Laurasia to the north and Gondwana to the south.
The global climate during the Triassic was hot and dry, with deserts spanning much of Pangaea's interior. However, the climate became more humid as Pangaea began to drift apart; the end of the period was marked by yet another major mass extinction, the Triassic–Jurassic extinction event, that wiped out many groups and allowed dinosaurs to assume dominance in the Jurassic. The Triassic was named in 1834 by Friedrich von Alberti, after the three distinct rock layers that are found throughout Germany and northwestern Europe—red beds, capped by marine limestone, followed by a series of terrestrial mud- and sandstones—called the "Trias"; the Triassic is separated into Early and Late Triassic Epochs, the corresponding rocks are referred to as Lower, Middle, or Upper Triassic. The faunal stages from the youngest to oldest are: During the Triassic all the Earth's land mass was concentrated into a single supercontinent centered more or less on the equator and spanning from pole to pole, called Pangaea.
From the east, along the equator, the Tethys sea penetrated Pangaea, causing the Paleo-Tethys Ocean to be closed. In the mid-Triassic a similar sea penetrated along the equator from the west; the remaining shores were surrounded by the world-ocean known as Panthalassa. All the deep-ocean sediments laid down during the Triassic have disappeared through subduction of oceanic plates; the supercontinent Pangaea was rifting during the Triassic—especially late in that period—but had not yet separated. The first nonmarine sediments in the rift that marks the initial break-up of Pangaea, which separated New Jersey from Morocco, are of Late Triassic age. S. these thick sediments comprise the Newark Group. Because a super-continental mass has less shoreline compared to one broken up, Triassic marine deposits are globally rare, despite their prominence in Western Europe, where the Triassic was first studied. In North America, for example, marine deposits are limited to a few exposures in the west, thus Triassic stratigraphy is based on organisms that lived in lagoons and hypersaline environments, such as Estheria crustaceans.
At the beginning of the Mesozoic Era, Africa was joined with Earth's other continents in Pangaea. Africa shared the supercontinent's uniform fauna, dominated by theropods and primitive ornithischians by the close of the Triassic period. Late Triassic fossils are more common in the south than north; the time boundary separating the Permian and Triassic marks the advent of an extinction event with global impact, although African strata from this time period have not been studied. During the Triassic peneplains are thought to have formed in what is now southern Sweden. Remnants of this peneplain can be traced as a tilted summit accordance in the Swedish West Coast. In northern Norway Triassic peneplains may have been buried in sediments to be re-exposed as coastal plains called strandflats. Dating of illite clay from a strandflat of Bømlo, southern Norway, have shown that landscape there became weathered in Late Triassic times with the landscape also being shaped during that time. At Paleorrota geopark, located in Rio Grande do Sul, the Santa Maria Formation and Caturrita Formations are exposed.
In these formations, one of the earliest dinosaurs, Staurikosaurus, as well as the mammal ancestors Brasilitherium and Brasilodon have been discovered. The Triassic continental interior climate was hot and dry, so that typical deposits are red bed sandstones and evaporites. There is no evidence of glaciation near either pole. Pangaea's large size limited the moderating effect of the global ocean; the strong contrast between the Pangea supercontinent and the global ocean triggered intense cross-equatorial monsoons. The Triassic may have been a dry period, but evidence exists that it was punctuated by several episodes of increased rainfall in tropical and subtropical latitudes of the Tethys Sea and its surrounding land. Sediments and fossils suggestive of a more humid climate are known from the Anisian to Ladinian of the Tethysian domain, from the Carnian and Rhaetian of a larger area that includes the Boreal domain, the North
The Permian is a geologic period and system which spans 47 million years from the end of the Carboniferous Period 298.9 million years ago, to the beginning of the Triassic period 251.902 Mya. It is the last period of the Paleozoic era; the concept of the Permian was introduced in 1841 by geologist Sir Roderick Murchison, who named it after the city of Perm. The Permian witnessed the diversification of the early amniotes into the ancestral groups of the mammals, turtles and archosaurs; the world at the time was dominated by two continents known as Pangaea and Siberia, surrounded by a global ocean called Panthalassa. The Carboniferous rainforest collapse left behind vast regions of desert within the continental interior. Amniotes, who could better cope with these drier conditions, rose to dominance in place of their amphibian ancestors; the Permian ended with the Permian–Triassic extinction event, the largest mass extinction in Earth's history, in which nearly 96% of marine species and 70% of terrestrial species died out.
It would take well into the Triassic for life to recover from this catastrophe. Recovery from the Permian–Triassic extinction event was protracted; the term "Permian" was introduced into geology in 1841 by Sir R. I. Murchison, president of the Geological Society of London, who identified typical strata in extensive Russian explorations undertaken with Édouard de Verneuil; the region now lies in the Perm Krai of Russia. Official ICS 2017 subdivisions of the Permian System from most recent to most ancient rock layers are: Lopingian epoch Changhsingian Wuchiapingian Others: Waiitian Makabewan Ochoan Guadalupian epoch Capitanian stage Wordian stage Roadian stage Others: Kazanian or Maokovian Braxtonian stage Cisuralian epoch Kungurian stage Artinskian stage Sakmarian stage Asselian stage Others: Telfordian Mangapirian Sea levels in the Permian remained low, near-shore environments were reduced as all major landmasses collected into a single continent—Pangaea; this could have in part caused the widespread extinctions of marine species at the end of the period by reducing shallow coastal areas preferred by many marine organisms.
During the Permian, all the Earth's major landmasses were collected into a single supercontinent known as Pangaea. Pangaea straddled the equator and extended toward the poles, with a corresponding effect on ocean currents in the single great ocean, the Paleo-Tethys Ocean, a large ocean that existed between Asia and Gondwana; the Cimmeria continent rifted away from Gondwana and drifted north to Laurasia, causing the Paleo-Tethys Ocean to shrink. A new ocean was growing on its southern end, the Tethys Ocean, an ocean that would dominate much of the Mesozoic era. Large continental landmass interiors experience climates with extreme variations of heat and cold and monsoon conditions with seasonal rainfall patterns. Deserts seem to have been widespread on Pangaea; such dry conditions favored gymnosperms, plants with seeds enclosed in a protective cover, over plants such as ferns that disperse spores in a wetter environment. The first modern trees appeared in the Permian. Three general areas are noted for their extensive Permian deposits—the Ural Mountains and the southwest of North America, including the Texas red beds.
The Permian Basin in the U. S. states of Texas and New Mexico is so named because it has one of the thickest deposits of Permian rocks in the world. The climate in the Permian was quite varied. At the start of the Permian, the Earth was still in an ice age. Glaciers receded around the mid-Permian period as the climate warmed, drying the continent's interiors. In the late Permian period, the drying continued although the temperature cycled between warm and cool cycles. Permian marine deposits are rich in fossil mollusks and brachiopods. Fossilized shells of two kinds of invertebrates are used to identify Permian strata and correlate them between sites: fusulinids, a kind of shelled amoeba-like protist, one of the foraminiferans, ammonoids, shelled cephalopods that are distant relatives of the modern nautilus. By the close of the Permian, trilobites and a host of other marine groups became extinct. Terrestrial life in the Permian included diverse plants, fungi and various types of tetrapods; the period saw a massive desert covering the interior of Pangaea.
The warm zone spread in the northern hemisphere. The rocks formed at that time were stained red by iron oxides, the result of intense heating by the sun of a surface devoid of vegetation cover. A number of older types of plants and animals became marginal elements; the Permian began with the Carboniferous flora still flourishing. About the middle of the Permian a major transition in vegetation began; the swamp-loving
Myllokunmingiidae is a group of early, jawless prehistoric fish which lived during the Cambrian period. The Myllokunmingiids are the earliest known group of craniates; the group contains three genera, Haikouichthys and Zhongjianichthys. Their fossils have been found only in the Maotianshan Shales lagerstätte. Order †Myllokunmingiida Shu, 2003Family †Myllokunmingiidae Shu, 2003 Genus †Haikouichthys Luo, Hu & Shu 1999 sensu Shu et al. 2003 Species †Haikouichthys ercaicunensis Luo, Hu & Shu 1999 sensu Shu et al. 2003 Genus †Myllokunmingia Shu, Zhang & Han, 1999 Species †Myllokunmingia fengjiaoa Shu, Zhang & Han, 1999 Genus †Zhongjianichthys Shu, 2003 Species †Zhongjianichthys rostratus Shu, 2003
Haikouella is an agnathan chordate from the Lower Cambrian Maotianshan shales of Chengjiang County in Yunnan Province, China. It is similar to the form Yunnanozoon, a hemichordate. Still, there are anatomical differences from Yunnanozoon, including a larger stomach and smaller pharyngeal teeth. Haikouella does not have bones or a movable jaw. Certain fish Haikouichthys and Myllokunmingia have been found in the same beds. Suspected hemichordates are known from these deposits as well as from the Middle Cambrian Burgess Shale of British Columbia. Other than possible fish scales/plates from the Upper Cambrian of Wyoming, these Chinese fish-like chordates are one of the only known pre-Ordovician craniates. Haikouella is known from 305 specimens from a single bed in the Maotianshan shales of Yunnan province; the animal is 20 to 30 mm in length and has a head, brain, well developed musculature and circulatory system. It has a bent caudal projection of the notochord, it might have a pair of lateral eyes.
Small structures that are pharyngeal teeth are present in the body cavity. A few specimens display ventral fins. There are two known species, H. lanceolata, the type species, H. jianshanensis. Another description and large Haikouella mass mortality image
The Devonian is a geologic period and system of the Paleozoic, spanning 60 million years from the end of the Silurian, 419.2 million years ago, to the beginning of the Carboniferous, 358.9 Mya. It is named after Devon, where rocks from this period were first studied; the first significant adaptive radiation of life on dry land occurred during the Devonian. Free-sporing vascular plants began to spread across dry land, forming extensive forests which covered the continents. By the middle of the Devonian, several groups of plants had evolved leaves and true roots, by the end of the period the first seed-bearing plants appeared. Various terrestrial arthropods became well-established. Fish reached substantial diversity during this time, leading the Devonian to be dubbed the "Age of Fishes." The first ray-finned and lobe-finned bony fish appeared, while the placoderms began dominating every known aquatic environment. The ancestors of all four-limbed vertebrates began adapting to walking on land, as their strong pectoral and pelvic fins evolved into legs.
In the oceans, primitive sharks became more numerous than in the Late Ordovician. The first ammonites, species of molluscs, appeared. Trilobites, the mollusc-like brachiopods and the great coral reefs, were still common; the Late Devonian extinction which started about 375 million years ago affected marine life, killing off all placodermi, all trilobites, save for a few species of the order Proetida. The palaeogeography was dominated by the supercontinent of Gondwana to the south, the continent of Siberia to the north, the early formation of the small continent of Euramerica in between; the period is named after Devon, a county in southwestern England, where a controversial argument in the 1830s over the age and structure of the rocks found distributed throughout the county was resolved by the definition of the Devonian period in the geological timescale. The Great Devonian Controversy was a long period of vigorous argument and counter-argument between the main protagonists of Roderick Murchison with Adam Sedgwick against Henry De la Beche supported by George Bellas Greenough.
Murchison and Sedgwick named the period they proposed as the Devonian System. While the rock beds that define the start and end of the Devonian period are well identified, the exact dates are uncertain. According to the International Commission on Stratigraphy, the Devonian extends from the end of the Silurian 419.2 Mya, to the beginning of the Carboniferous 358.9 Mya. In nineteenth-century texts the Devonian has been called the "Old Red Age", after the red and brown terrestrial deposits known in the United Kingdom as the Old Red Sandstone in which early fossil discoveries were found. Another common term is "Age of the Fishes", referring to the evolution of several major groups of fish that took place during the period. Older literature on the Anglo-Welsh basin divides it into the Downtonian, Dittonian and Farlovian stages, the latter three of which are placed in the Devonian; the Devonian has erroneously been characterised as a "greenhouse age", due to sampling bias: most of the early Devonian-age discoveries came from the strata of western Europe and eastern North America, which at the time straddled the Equator as part of the supercontinent of Euramerica where fossil signatures of widespread reefs indicate tropical climates that were warm and moderately humid but in fact the climate in the Devonian differed during its epochs and between geographic regions.
For example, during the Early Devonian, arid conditions were prevalent through much of the world including Siberia, North America, China, but Africa and South America had a warm temperate climate. In the Late Devonian, by contrast, arid conditions were less prevalent across the world and temperate climates were more common; the Devonian Period is formally broken into Early and Late subdivisions. The rocks corresponding to those epochs are referred to as belonging to the Lower and Upper parts of the Devonian System. Early DevonianThe Early Devonian lasted from 419.2 ± 2.8 to 393.3 ± 2.5 and began with the Lochkovian stage, which lasted until the Pragian. It spanned from 410.8 ± 2.8 to 407.6 ± 2.5, was followed by the Emsian, which lasted until the Middle Devonian began, 393.3± 2.7 million years ago. During this time, the first ammonoids appeared. Ammonoids during this time period differed little from their nautiloid counterparts; these ammonoids belong to the order Agoniatitida, which in epochs evolved to new ammonoid orders, for example Goniatitida and Clymeniida.
This class of cephalopod molluscs would dominate the marine fauna until the beginning of the Mesozoic era. Middle DevonianThe Middle Devonian comprised two subdivisions: first the Eifelian, which gave way to the Givetian 387.7± 2.7 million years ago. During this time the jawless agnathan fishes began to decline in diversity in freshwater and marine environments due to drastic environmental changes and due to the increasing competition and diversity of jawed fishes; the shallow, oxygen-depleted waters of Devonian inland lakes, surrounded by primitive plants, provided the environment necessary for certain early fish to develop such essential characteristics as well developed lungs, the ability to crawl out of the water and onto the land for short periods of time. Late DevonianFinally, the Late Devonian started with the Frasnian, 382.7 ± 2.8 to 372.2 ± 2.5, during which the first forests took shape on land. The first tetrapods appeared in the fossil record in the ensuing Famennian subdivisi
Sharks are a group of elasmobranch fish characterized by a cartilaginous skeleton, five to seven gill slits on the sides of the head, pectoral fins that are not fused to the head. Modern sharks are the sister group to the rays. However, the term "shark" has been used for extinct members of the subclass Elasmobranchii outside the Selachimorpha, such as Cladoselache and Xenacanthus, as well as other Chondrichthyes such as the holocephalid eugenedontidans. Under this broader definition, the earliest known sharks date back to more than 420 million years ago. Acanthodians are referred to as "spiny sharks". Since sharks have diversified into over 500 species, they range in size from the small dwarf lanternshark, a deep sea species of only 17 centimetres in length, to the whale shark, the largest fish in the world, which reaches 12 metres in length. Sharks are common to depths of 2,000 metres, they do not live in freshwater although there are a few known exceptions, such as the bull shark and the river shark, which can be found in both seawater and freshwater.
Sharks have a covering of dermal denticles that protects their skin from damage and parasites in addition to improving their fluid dynamics. They have numerous sets of replaceable teeth. Well-known species such as the great white shark, tiger shark, blue shark, mako shark, thresher shark, hammerhead shark are apex predators—organisms at the top of their underwater food chain. Many shark populations are threatened by human activities; until the 16th century, sharks were known to mariners as "sea dogs". This is still evidential in the porbeagle; the etymology of the word "shark" is uncertain, the most etymology states that the original sense of the word was that of "predator, one who preys on others" from the Dutch schurk, meaning "villain, scoundrel", applied to the fish due to its predatory behaviour. A now disproven theory is that it derives from the Yucatec Maya word xok, meaning "fish". Evidence for this etymology came from the Oxford English Dictionary, which notes shark first came into use after Sir John Hawkins' sailors exhibited one in London in 1569 and posted "sharke" to refer to the large sharks of the Caribbean Sea.
However, the Middle English Dictionary records an isolated occurrence of the word shark in a letter written by Thomas Beckington in 1442, which rules out a New World etymology. Evidence for the existence of sharks dates from the Ordovician period, 450–420 million years ago, before land vertebrates existed and before a variety of plants had colonized the continents. Only scales have been recovered from the first sharks and not all paleontologists agree that these are from true sharks, suspecting that these scales are those of thelodont agnathans; the oldest accepted shark scales are from about 420 million years ago, in the Silurian period. The first sharks looked different from modern sharks. At this time the most common shark tooth is the cladodont, a style of thin tooth with three tines like a trident to help catch fish; the majority of modern sharks can be traced back to around 100 million years ago. Most fossils are of teeth in large numbers. Partial skeletons and complete fossilized remains have been discovered.
Estimates suggest that sharks grow tens of thousands of teeth over a lifetime, which explains the abundant fossils. The teeth consist of fossilized calcium phosphate, an apatite; when a shark dies, the decomposing skeleton breaks up. Preservation requires rapid burial in bottom sediments. Among the most ancient and primitive sharks is Cladoselache, from about 370 million years ago, found within Paleozoic strata in Ohio and Tennessee. At that point in Earth's history these rocks made up the soft bottom sediments of a large, shallow ocean, which stretched across much of North America. Cladoselache was only about 1 metre long with stiff triangular fins and slender jaws, its teeth had several pointed cusps. From the small number of teeth found together, it is most that Cladoselache did not replace its teeth as as modern sharks, its caudal fins had a similar shape to the great white sharks and the pelagic shortfin and longfin makos. The presence of whole fish arranged tail-first in their stomachs suggest that they were fast swimmers with great agility.
Most fossil sharks from about 300 to 150 million years ago can be assigned to one of two groups. The Xenacanthida was exclusive to freshwater environments. By the time this group became extinct about 220 million years ago, they had spread worldwide; the other group, the hybodonts, appeared about 320 million years ago and lived in the oceans, but in freshwater. The results of a 2014 study of the gill structure of an unusually well preserved 325-million-year-old fossil suggested that sharks are not "living fossils", but rather have evolved more extensively than thought over the hundreds of millions of years they have been around. Modern sharks began to appear about 100 million years ago. Fossil mackerel shark teeth date to the Early Cretaceous. One of the most evolved families is the hammerhead shark, which emerged in the Eocene; the oldest white shark teeth date from 60 to 66 million years ago, around the time of the extinction of the dinosaurs. In early white shark evolution th