Underwater life thrived during the Silurian Period, 443 million years ago to 416 million years ago.
The Paleozoic Era, which ran from about 542 million years ago to 251 million years ago, was a time of great change on Earth. The era began with the breakup of one supercontinent and the formation of another. Plants became widespread. And the first vertebrate animals colonized land.
Life in the Paleozoic
The Paleozoic began with the Cambrian Period, 53 million years best known for ushering in an explosion of life on Earth. This "Cambrian explosion" included the evolution of arthropods (ancestors of today's insects and crustaceans) and chordates (animals with rudimentary spinal cords).
In the Paleozoic Era, life flourished in the seas. After the Cambrian Period came the 45-million-year Ordovician Period, which is marked in the fossil record by an abundance of marine invertebrates. Perhaps the most famous of these invertebrates was the trilobite, an armored arthropod that scuttled around the seafloor for about 270 million years before going extinct.
After the Ordovician Period came the Silurian Period (443 million years ago to 416 million years ago), which saw the spread of jawless fish throughout the seas. Mollusks and corals also thrived in the oceans, but the big news was what was happening on land: the first undisputed evidence of terrestrial life.
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