Paleozoic Era

of the Earth

The Paleozoic Era also is the start of the Phanerozoic Eon (543 mya to present), but this era lasted only about 300 million years. This era was characterized by the rise and fall of the sea level several times, which allowed shallow waters to cover the continents several times and marine life to flourish.

The Paleozoic Era began with the development of shells, which allowed fossilization of these organisms to occur. This is why there is much more known about the Paleozoic life than Precambrian life.

One of the major developments in this era was the formation of Pangaea. This era was characterized by the major movements of the plates - plate tectonics. Scientists believe that this movement caused the rise and fall of the sea levels.


This era ended with a major extinction of the life that existed at the time. There are several theories for this extinction. The first is that a comet or asteroid hit the Earth, destroying life as it was. The second theory, which is becoming more widely accepted, states that worldwide global cooling resulted in glaciation and a change in climatic conditions. This theory is based on information found in fossils and rock layers.

This era was divided into 6 periods, and 1 of these periods is divided into 2 epochs, while another period has a specific epoch within it. Click on the links below to learn more about these times.

Tommotian (530 - 527 mya)   Pennsylvanian (323 - 290 mya) Mississippian (354 - 323 mya)
Cambrian (543 - 490 mya) Ordovician (490 - 443 mya) Silurian (443 - 417 mya) Devonian (417 - 360 mya) Carboniferous (360 - 286 mya) Permian (286 - 248 mya)