THE PALEOZOIC ERA is the earliest of three geologic eras of the Phanerozoic eon. This era spanned from roughly 542 million years ago to roughly 251 million years ago. The Paleozoic era is subdivided into six geologic periods: the Cambrian, Ordovician, Silurian, Devonian, Carboniferous, and Permian. The Paleozoic covers the time from the first appearance of abundant, hard-shelled fossils to the time when the continents were beginning to be dominated by large reptiles and modern plants. The oldest geological period was classically set at the first appearance of creatures known as trilobites and archeocyathids. The youngest geological period marks a major extinction event 300 million years ago, known as the Permian extinction.

At the start of the era, all life was confined to bacteria, algae, sponges, ...

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