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The Ediacarian Period and System: Metazoa Inherit the Earth

Preston Cloud and Martin F. Glaessner
Science
New Series, Vol. 217, No. 4562 (Aug. 27, 1982), pp. 783-792
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1689058
Page Count: 10
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The Ediacarian Period and System: Metazoa Inherit the Earth
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Abstract

The Ediacarian, here defined as the initial period and system of the Phanerozoic Eon, is characterized by the oldest known multicellular animal life. The distinctive biotal assemblage comprises naked Metazoa, represented in the type region by 26 species in 18 genera and 4 or more phyla, plus simple metazoan surface tracks. Elements of this unique biota appeared worldwide at low paleolatitudes, following terminal Proterozoic glaciation. Ediacarian history lasted from about 670 million to 550 million years ago. This interval, plus Early Cambrian, was the time during which metazoan life diversified into nearly all of the major phyla and most of the invertebrate classes and orders subsequently known.

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