Paleozoic Earth ] Back | Next >

Location
 Worldwide
 303 million years ago

Mean atmospheric O2
 163% of modern level

Mean atmospheric CO2
 3x pre-industrial level

Mean temperature
 Same as modern level

 

Paleozoic Earth - Carboniferous riverbank featuring Sigillaria scutellata, Asterophyllites equisetiformis (Calamitaceae), Calamites, Meganeura, amphibians, & scorpion - Natural History Illustration Geologic Time Scale

 Era: Paleozoic
  Period: Carboniferous*
   Epoch: Late
    Age: Gzhelian

     
 

Carboniferous riverbank

Ferns, seed ferns, and giant lycopods (primitive moss-like plants with long slender leaves) flourished during the Carboniferous period, from about 360 to 300 million years ago. Some lycopods, such as the arboreal genus Sigillaria illustrated here, grew as high as 130 feet. (100 feet is considered tall for a modern Maple tree). Other tree-like plants included many varieties of arborescent horsetail of the genus Calamites and genus Asterophyllites.

While the first dinosaurs were not to appear for another 130 million years, the Carboniferous forests were home to a plethora of terrestrial animals, including many species of invertebrates and some of the first walking vertebrates, including amphibians resembling modern salamanders. It was the insects however, many of them giants, that dominated the landscape. There were dragonfly-like Meganeura with wingspans up to 30 inches, giant centipedes roamed the forest floor, and some scorpions were over 20 inches long.

*AKA Carboniferous/ Pennsylvanian

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Copyright Walter B. Myers. All rights reserved.

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