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The Paleozoic Era

Stretching from 542 to 250 million years ago, the Paleozoic Era is when the first complex, multicellular life forms appeared on earth, including fish, tetrapods, amphibians, and various types of reptiles. Here's where you can find an overview of prehistoric life during the Paleozoic Era and its various subdivisions, including the Cambrian, Ordovician, Silurian, Devonian, Carboniferous and Permian periods.

The Paleozoic Era (542-250 Million Years Ago)
The Paleozoic Era was when the first complex, multicellular organisms evolved, eventually leading to the archosaurs and therapsids that ushered in the age of dinosaurs. Here's an overview of the prehistoric life that could be found on earth during the Paleozoic Era.

The Cambrian Period (542-488 Million Years Ago)
The Cambrian period is famous for its "explosion" of new, multicellular life forms, including the very first vertebrate animals. Here's a look at the prehistoric life that could be found on earth during the Cambrian period.

The Ordovician Period (488-443 Million Years Ago)
Though it's not as well-known as the preceding Cambrian period, the Ordovician period was crucial for the continuing evolution of arthropods and vertebrates. Here's a look at the prehistoric life that could be found on earth during the Ordovician period.

The Silurian Period (443-416 Million Years Ago)
The shortest period of the Paleozic Era, the Silurian marks the time when the first plants and animals colonized dry land. Here's a look at the prehistoric life that could be found on earth during the Silurian period.

The Devonian Period (416-360 Million Years Ago)
The Devonian period is when the first, brave lobe-finned fish climbed out of the sea and onto dry land, kicking off millions of years of terrestrial vertebrate evolution. Here's a look at the prehistoric life that could be found on earth during the Devonian period.

The Carboniferous Period (350-300 Million Years Ago)
The Carboniferous period marks the time when reptiles and amphibians cemented their hold on dry land, while dense tropical swamps covered much of the planet (yielding most of today's coal reserves). Here's a look at the prehistoric life that could be found on earth during the Carboniferous period.

The Permian Period (300-250 Million Years Ago)
The Permian period is when the first reptiles dominated the planet--not dinosaurs, but therapsids, also known as "mammal-like reptiles." Here's a look at the prehistoric life that could be found on earth during the Permian period.

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