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Ordovician Period
485.4–443.8 million years ago
Scotese 470 ma.png

A map of the world as it appeared at the boundary between the Early and Middle Ordovician. (470 ma)


Mean atmospheric O
content over period duration
c. 13.5 vol %
(68 % of modern level)
Mean atmospheric CO
content over period duration
c. 4200 ppm
(15 times pre-industrial level)
Mean surface temperature over period durationc. 16 °C
(2 °C above modern level)
Sea level (above present day)180 m; rising to 220 m in Caradoc and falling sharply to 140 m in end-Ordovician glaciations [1]
Epochs in the Ordovician
Epochs of the Ordovician Period.
Axis scale: millions of years ago.

The Ordovician ( /ɔːr.dəˈvɪʃ.i.ən,-d-,-ˈvɪʃ.ən/ or-də-VISH-ee-ən, -doh-, -VISH-ən) [2] is a geologic period and system, the second of six periods of the Paleozoic Era. The Ordovician spans 41.6 million years from the end of the Cambrian Period 485.4 million years ago (Mya) to the start of the Silurian Period 443.8 Mya. [3]

The Ordovician, named after the Welsh tribe of the Ordovices, was defined by Charles Lapworth in 1879 to resolve a dispute between followers of Adam Sedgwick and Roderick Murchison, who were placing the same rock beds in northern Wales into the Cambrian and Silurian systems, respectively. [4] Lapworth recognized that the fossil fauna in the disputed strata were different from those of either the Cambrian or the Silurian systems, and placed them in a system of their own. The Ordovician received international approval in 1960 (forty years after Lapworth's death), when it was adopted as an official period of the Paleozoic Era by the International Geological Congress.

Life continued to flourish during the Ordovician as it did in the earlier Cambrian period, although the end of the period was marked by the Ordovician–Silurian extinction events. Invertebrates, namely molluscs and arthropods, dominated the oceans. The Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event considerably increased the diversity of life. Fish, the world's first true vertebrates, continued to evolve, and those with jaws may have first appeared late in the period. Life had yet to diversify on land. About 100 times as many meteorites struck the Earth per year during the Ordovician compared with today. [5]


A number of regional terms have been used to subdivide the Ordovician Period. In 2008, the ICS erected a formal international system of subdivisions. [6] There exist Baltoscandic, British, Siberian, North American, Australian, Chinese Mediterranean and North-Gondwanan regional stratigraphic schemes. [7]

The Ordovician Period in Britain was traditionally broken into Early (Tremadocian and Arenig), Middle (Llanvirn (subdivided into Abereiddian and Llandeilian) and Llandeilo) and Late (Caradoc and Ashgill) epochs. The corresponding rocks of the Ordovician System are referred to as coming from the Lower, Middle, or Upper part of the column. The faunal stages (subdivisions of epochs) from youngest to oldest are:

Late Ordovician

Middle Ordovician

Early Ordovician

British stages

The Tremadoc corresponds to the (modern) Tremadocian. The Floian corresponds to the lower Arenig; the Arenig continues until the early Darriwilian, subsuming the Dapingian. The Llanvirn occupies the rest of the Darriwilian, and terminates with it at the base of the Late Ordovician. The Sandbian represents the first half of the Caradoc; the Caradoc ends in the mid-Katian, and the Ashgill represents the last half of the Katian, plus the Hirnantian. [8] [ This would be clearer as a diagram. ]

Ordovician regional stages
ICS Epoch ICS stage British epochBritish stageNorth American epochNorth American stageAustralian epochAustralian stageChinese epochChinese stage
Late Ordovician Hirnantian stage Ashgill series Hirnantian stage Cincinnati series Gamach stage Late Ordovician Bolinda stage Late Ordovician Hirnantian stage
Katian stage Rawthey stage Richmond stage Chientangkiang stage
Cautley stage Maysville stage Easton stage Neichiashan stage
Pusgill stage Eden stage
Caradoc series Strefford stage Mohawk stage Chatfield stage
Cheney stage
Sandbian stage Burrell stage Turin stage Gisborne stage
Aureluc stage Whiterock stage Chazy stage
Middle Ordovician Darriwilian stage Llanvirn series Llandeilo stage Middle Ordovician Darriwilian stage Middle Ordovician Darriwilian stage
Abereiddy stage Not defined
Dapingian stage Arenig series Fenn stage Early Ordovician Yapeen stage Dapingian stage
Whitland stage Ranger stage Castlemaine stage
Ibex series Black Hills stage Chewton stage
Bendigo stage
Early Ordovician Floian stage Moridun stage Tule stage Lancefield stage Early Ordovician Floian stage
Tremadocian stage Tremadoc series Migneint stage Stairs stage Tremadocian stage
Cressage stage Skullrock stage


During the Ordovician, the southern continents were collected into Gondwana. Gondwana started the period in equatorial latitudes and, as the period progressed, drifted toward the South Pole.

Early in the Ordovician, the continents of Laurentia (in present-day North America), Siberia, and Baltica (present-day northern Europe) were still independent continents (since the break-up of the supercontinent Pannotia earlier), but Baltica began to move towards Laurentia later in the period, causing the Iapetus Ocean between them to shrink. The small continent Avalonia separated from Gondwana and began to move north towards Baltica and Laurentia, opening the Rheic Ocean between Gondwana and Avalonia.

The Taconic orogeny, a major mountain-building episode, was well under way in Cambrian times. In the early and middle Ordovician, temperatures were mild, but at the beginning of the Late Ordovician, from 460 to 450 Ma, volcanoes along the margin of the Iapetus Ocean spewed massive amounts of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere, turning the planet into a hothouse.

Initially, sea levels were high, but as Gondwana moved south, ice accumulated into glaciers and sea levels dropped. At first, low-lying sea beds increased diversity, but later glaciation led to mass extinctions as the seas drained and continental shelves became dry land. During the Ordovician, in fact during the Tremadocian, marine transgressions worldwide were the greatest for which evidence is preserved.

These volcanic island arcs eventually collided with proto North America to form the Appalachian mountains. By the end of the Late Ordovician the volcanic emissions had stopped. Gondwana had by that time neared the South Pole and was largely glaciated.

Ordovician meteor event

The Ordovician meteor event is a proposed shower of meteors that occurred during the Middle Ordovician period, about 467.5±0.28 million years ago due to the break-up of the L chondrite parent body. [9] It is not associated with any major extinction event. [10] [11] [12]


External mold of Ordovician bivalve showing that the original aragonite shell dissolved on the sea floor, leaving a cemented mold for biological encrustation (Waynesville Formation of Franklin County, Indiana). Anomalodonta gigantea Waynesville Franklin Co IN.JPG
External mold of Ordovician bivalve showing that the original aragonite shell dissolved on the sea floor, leaving a cemented mold for biological encrustation (Waynesville Formation of Franklin County, Indiana).

The Ordovician was a time of calcite sea geochemistry in which low-magnesium calcite was the primary inorganic marine precipitate of calcium carbonate. Carbonate hardgrounds were thus very common, along with calcitic ooids, calcitic cements, and invertebrate faunas with dominantly calcitic skeletons. Biogenic aragonite, like that composing the shells of most molluscs, dissolved rapidly on the sea floor after death. [13] [14]

Unlike Cambrian times, when calcite production was dominated by microbial and non-biological processes, animals (and macroalgae) became a dominant source of calcareous material in Ordovician deposits. [15]

Climate and sea level

The Ordovician saw the highest sea levels of the Paleozoic, and the low relief of the continents led to many shelf deposits being formed under hundreds of metres of water. [15] The sea level rose more or less continuously throughout the Early Ordovician, leveling off somewhat during the middle of the period. [15] Locally, some regressions occurred, but sea level rise continued in the beginning of the Late Ordovician. Sea levels fell steadily in accord with the cooling temperatures for ~30 million years leading up to the Hirnantian glaciation. During this icy stage, sea level seems to have risen and dropped somewhat, but despite much study the details remain unresolved. [15]

As with North America and Europe, Gondwana was largely covered with shallow seas during the Ordovician. Shallow clear waters over continental shelves encouraged the growth of organisms that deposit calcium carbonates in their shells and hard parts. The Panthalassic Ocean covered much of the northern hemisphere, and other minor oceans included Proto-Tethys, Paleo-Tethys, Khanty Ocean, which was closed off by the Late Ordovician, Iapetus Ocean, and the new Rheic Ocean.

As the Ordovician progressed, there is evidence of glaciers on the land we now know as Africa and South America, which were near the South Pole at the time, resulting in the ice caps of the Late Ordovician glaciation.


A diorama depicting Ordovician flora and fauna. Nmnh fg09.jpg
A diorama depicting Ordovician flora and fauna.

For most of the Late Ordovician life continued to flourish, but at and near the end of the period there were mass-extinction events that seriously affected conodonts and planktonic forms like graptolites. The trilobites Agnostida and Ptychopariida completely died out, and the Asaphida were much reduced. Brachiopods, bryozoans and echinoderms were also heavily affected, and the endocerid cephalopods died out completely, except for possible rare Silurian forms. The Ordovician–Silurian extinction events may have been caused by an ice age that occurred at the end of the Ordovician period, due to the expansion of the first terrestrial plants, [16] as the end of the Late Ordovician was one of the coldest times in the last 600 million years of Earth's history.


Nautiloids like Orthoceras were among the largest predators in the Ordovician. Orthoceras BW.jpg
Nautiloids like Orthoceras were among the largest predators in the Ordovician.
Fossiliferous limestone slab from the Liberty Formation (Upper Ordovician) of Caesar Creek State Park near Waynesville, Ohio. LibertyFormationSlab092313.jpg
Fossiliferous limestone slab from the Liberty Formation (Upper Ordovician) of Caesar Creek State Park near Waynesville, Ohio.
The trilobite Isotelus from Wisconsin. Isotelus trilobite from Wisconsin.jpg
The trilobite Isotelus from Wisconsin.

On the whole, the fauna that emerged in the Ordovician were the template for the remainder of the Palaeozoic. [15] The fauna was dominated by tiered communities of suspension feeders, mainly with short food chains. The ecological system reached a new grade of complexity far beyond that of the Cambrian fauna, [15] which has persisted until the present day. [15]

Though less famous than the Cambrian explosion, the Ordovician radiation was no less remarkable; marine faunal genera increased fourfold, resulting in 12% of all known Phanerozoic marine fauna. [17] Another change in the fauna was the strong increase in filter-feeding organisms. [18] The trilobite, inarticulate brachiopod, archaeocyathid, and eocrinoid faunas of the Cambrian were succeeded by those that dominated the rest of the Paleozoic, such as articulate brachiopods, cephalopods, and crinoids. Articulate brachiopods, in particular, largely replaced trilobites in shelf communities. [19] Their success epitomizes the greatly increased diversity of carbonate shell-secreting organisms in the Ordovician compared to the Cambrian. [19]

In North America and Europe, the Ordovician was a time of shallow continental seas rich in life. Trilobites and brachiopods in particular were rich and diverse. Although solitary corals date back to at least the Cambrian, reef-forming corals appeared in the early Ordovician, corresponding to an increase in the stability of carbonate and thus a new abundance of calcifying animals. [15]

Molluscs, which appeared during the Cambrian or even the Ediacaran, became common and varied, especially bivalves, gastropods, and nautiloid cephalopods.

Now-extinct marine animals called graptolites thrived in the oceans. Some new cystoids and crinoids appeared.

It was long thought that the first true vertebrates (fish — Ostracoderms) appeared in the Ordovician, but recent discoveries in China reveal that they probably originated in the Early Cambrian.[ citation needed ] The first gnathostome (jawed fish) appeared in the Late Ordovician epoch.

During the Middle Ordovician there was a large increase in the intensity and diversity of bioeroding organisms. This is known as the Ordovician Bioerosion Revolution. [20] It is marked by a sudden abundance of hard substrate trace fossils such as Trypanites , Palaeosabella, Petroxestes and Osprioneides . Several groups of endobiotic symbionts appeared in the Ordovician. [21] [22]

In the Early Ordovician, trilobites were joined by many new types of organisms, including tabulate corals, strophomenid, rhynchonellid, and many new orthid brachiopods, bryozoans, planktonic graptolites and conodonts, and many types of molluscs and echinoderms, including the ophiuroids ("brittle stars") and the first sea stars. Nevertheless, the arthropods remained abundant, all the Late Cambrian orders continued, and were joined by the new group Phacopida. The first evidence of land plants also appeared (see evolutionary history of life).

In the Middle Ordovician, the trilobite-dominated Early Ordovician communities were replaced by generally more mixed ecosystems, in which brachiopods, bryozoans, molluscs, cornulitids, tentaculitids and echinoderms all flourished, tabulate corals diversified and the first rugose corals appeared. The planktonic graptolites remained diverse, with the Diplograptina making their appearance. Bioerosion became an important process, particularly in the thick calcitic skeletons of corals, bryozoans and brachiopods, and on the extensive carbonate hardgrounds that appear in abundance at this time. One of the earliest known armoured agnathan ("ostracoderm") vertebrate, Arandaspis , dates from the Middle Ordovician.

Trilobites in the Ordovician were very different from their predecessors in the Cambrian. Many trilobites developed bizarre spines and nodules to defend against predators such as primitive eurypterids and nautiloids while other trilobites such as Aeglina prisca evolved to become swimming forms. Some trilobites even developed shovel-like snouts for ploughing through muddy sea bottoms. Another unusual clade of trilobites known as the trinucleids developed a broad pitted margin around their head shields. [23] Some trilobites such as Asaphus kowalewski evolved long eyestalks to assist in detecting predators whereas other trilobite eyes in contrast disappeared completely. [24] Molecular clock analyses suggest that early arachnids started living on land by the end of the Ordovician. [25]

The earliest-known octocorals date from the Ordovician. [26]


Green algae were common in the Late Cambrian (perhaps earlier) and in the Ordovician. Terrestrial plants probably evolved from green algae, first appearing as tiny non-vascular forms resembling liverworts. Fossil spores from land plants have been identified in uppermost Ordovician sediments.

Colonization of land would have been limited to shorelines Ordovician Land Scene.jpg
Colonization of land would have been limited to shorelines

Among the first land fungi may have been arbuscular mycorrhiza fungi (Glomerales), playing a crucial role in facilitating the colonization of land by plants through mycorrhizal symbiosis, which makes mineral nutrients available to plant cells; such fossilized fungal hyphae and spores from the Ordovician of Wisconsin have been found with an age of about 460 million years ago, a time when the land flora most likely only consisted of plants similar to non-vascular bryophytes. [28]

End of the period

The Ordovician came to a close in a series of extinction events that, taken together, comprise the second largest of the five major extinction events in Earth's history in terms of percentage of genera that became extinct. The only larger one was the Permian–Triassic extinction event.

The extinctions occurred approximately 447–444 million years ago and mark the boundary between the Ordovician and the following Silurian Period. At that time all complex multicellular organisms lived in the sea, and about 49% of genera of fauna disappeared forever; brachiopods and bryozoans were greatly reduced, along with many trilobite, conodont and graptolite families.

The most commonly accepted theory is that these events were triggered by the onset of cold conditions in the late Katian, followed by an ice age, in the Hirnantian faunal stage, that ended the long, stable greenhouse conditions typical of the Ordovician.

The ice age was possibly not long-lasting. Oxygen isotopes in fossil brachiopods show its duration may have been only 0.5 to 1.5 million years. [29] Other researchers (Page et al.) estimate more temperate conditions did not return until the late Silurian.

The late Ordovician glaciation event was preceded by a fall in atmospheric carbon dioxide (from 7000 ppm to 4400 ppm). [30] [31] The dip was triggered by a burst of volcanic activity that deposited new silicate rocks, which draw CO2 out of the air as they erode. [31] This selectively affected the shallow seas where most organisms lived. As the southern supercontinent Gondwana drifted over the South Pole, ice caps formed on it, which have been detected in Upper Ordovician rock strata of North Africa and then-adjacent northeastern South America, which were south-polar locations at the time.

As glaciers grew, the sea level dropped, and the vast shallow intra-continental Ordovician seas withdrew, which eliminated many ecological niches. When they returned, they carried diminished founder populations that lacked many whole families of organisms. They then withdrew again with the next pulse of glaciation, eliminating biological diversity with each change. [32] Species limited to a single epicontinental sea on a given landmass were severely affected. [14] Tropical lifeforms were hit particularly hard in the first wave of extinction, while cool-water species were hit worst in the second pulse. [14]

Those species able to adapt to the changing conditions survived to fill the ecological niches left by the extinctions.

At the end of the second event, melting glaciers caused the sea level to rise and stabilise once more. The rebound of life's diversity with the permanent re-flooding of continental shelves at the onset of the Silurian saw increased biodiversity within the surviving Orders.

An alternate extinction hypothesis suggested that a ten-second gamma-ray burst could have destroyed the ozone layer and exposed terrestrial and marine surface-dwelling life to deadly ultraviolet radiation and initiated global cooling. [33]

Recent work considering the sequence stratigraphy of the Late Ordovician argues that the mass extinction was a single protracted episode lasting several hundred thousand years, with abrupt changes in water depth and sedimentation rate producing two pulses of last occurrences of species. [34]

Related Research Articles

Cambrian First period of the Paleozoic Era, 541-485 million years ago

The Cambrian Period was the first geological period of the Paleozoic Era, and of the Phanerozoic Eon. The Cambrian lasted 55.6 million years from the end of the preceding Ediacaran Period 541 million years ago (mya) to the beginning of the Ordovician Period 485.4 mya. Its subdivisions, and its base, are somewhat in flux. The period was established by Adam Sedgwick, who named it after Cambria, the Latin name of Wales, where Britain's Cambrian rocks are best exposed. The Cambrian is unique in its unusually high proportion of lagerstätte sedimentary deposits, sites of exceptional preservation where "soft" parts of organisms are preserved as well as their more resistant shells. As a result, our understanding of the Cambrian biology surpasses that of some later periods.

Devonian Fourth period of the Paleozoic Era 419-359 million years ago

The Devonian is a geologic period and system of the Paleozoic, spanning 60 million years from the end of the Silurian, 419.2 million years ago (Mya), to the beginning of the Carboniferous, 358.9 Mya. It is named after Devon, England, where rocks from this period were first studied.

The PaleozoicEra is the earliest of three geologic eras of the Phanerozoic Eon. It is the longest of the Phanerozoic eras, lasting from 541 to 251.902 million years ago, and is subdivided into six geologic periods : the Cambrian, Ordovician, Silurian, Devonian, Carboniferous, and Permian. The Paleozoic comes after the Neoproterozoic Era of the Proterozoic Eon and is followed by the Mesozoic Era.

Silurian Third period of the Paleozoic Era 444-419 million years ago

The Silurian is a geologic period and system spanning 24.6 million years from the end of the Ordovician Period, at 443.8 million years ago (Mya), to the beginning of the Devonian Period, 419.2 Mya. The Silurian is the shortest period of the Paleozoic Era. As with other geologic periods, the rock beds that define the period's start and end are well identified, but the exact dates are uncertain by a few million years. The base of the Silurian is set at a series of major Ordovician–Silurian extinction events when up to 60% of marine genera were wiped out.

Ordovician–Silurian extinction events Mass extinction event at the end of the Ordovician period and the beginning of the Silurian period in the Paleozoic era, around 444 million years ago

The Ordovician–Silurian extinction events, also known as the Late Ordovician mass extinction (LOME), are collectively the second-largest of the five major extinction events in Earth's history in terms of percentage of genera that became extinct. Extinction was global during this period, eliminating 49–60% of marine genera and nearly 85% of marine species. Only the Permian-Triassic mass extinction exceeds the LOME in total biodiversity loss. The extinction event abruptly affected all major taxonomic groups and caused the disappearance of one third of all brachiopod and bryozoan families, as well as numerous groups of conodonts, trilobites, echinoderms, corals, bivalves, and graptolites. This extinction was the first of the "big five" Phanerozoic mass extinction events and was the first to significantly affect animal-based communities. However, the LOME did not produce major changes to ecosystem structures compared to other mass extinctions, nor did it lead to any particular morphological innovations. Diversity gradually recovered to pre-extinction levels over the first 5 million years of the Silurian period.

The Hirnantian is the final internationally recognized stage of the Ordovician Period of the Paleozoic Era. It was of short duration, lasting about 1.4 million years, from 445.2 to 443.8 Ma. The early part of the Hirnantian was characterized by cold temperatures, major glaciation, and a severe drop in sea level. In the latter part of the Hirnantian, temperatures rose, the glaciers melted, and sea level returned to the same or to a slightly higher level than it had been prior to the glaciation.

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In the geological timescale, the Llandovery epoch occurred at the beginning of the Silurian period. The Llandoverian epoch follows the massive Ordovician-Silurian extinction events, which led to a large decrease in biodiversity and an opening up of ecosystems.

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The Ordovician radiation, or the great Ordovician biodiversification event (GOBE), was an evolutionary radiation of animal life throughout the Ordovician period, 40 million years after the Cambrian explosion, whereby the distinctive Cambrian fauna fizzled out to be replaced with a Paleozoic fauna rich in suspension feeder and pelagic animals.

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Paleontology in Ohio

Paleontology in Ohio refers to paleontological research occurring within or conducted by people from the U.S. state of Ohio. Ohio is well known for having a great quantity and diversity of fossils preserved in its rocks. The state's fossil record begins early in the Paleozoic era, during the Cambrian period. Ohio was generally covered by seawater from that time on through the rest of the early Paleozoic. Local invertebrates included brachiopods, cephalopods, coral, graptolites, and trilobites. Vertebrates included bony fishes and sharks. The first land plants in the state grew during the Devonian. During the Carboniferous, Ohio became a more terrestrial environment with an increased diversity of plants that formed expansive swampy deltas. Amphibians and reptiles began to inhabit the state at this time, and remained present into the ensuing Permian. A gap in the local rock record spans from this point until the start of the Pleistocene. During the Ice Age, Ohio was home to giant beavers, humans, mammoths, and mastodons. Paleo-Indians collected fossils that were later incorporated into their mounds. Ohio has been the birthplace of many world famous paleontologists, like Charles Schuchert. Many significant fossils curated by museums in Europe and the United States were found in Ohio. Major local fossil discoveries include the 1965 discovery of more than 50,000 Devonian fish fossils in Cuyahoga County. The Ordovician trilobite Isotelus maximus is the Ohio state fossil.

Paleontology in Indiana

Paleontology in Indiana refers to paleontological research occurring within or conducted by people from the U.S. state of Indiana. Indiana's fossil record stretches all the way back to the Precambrian, when the state was inhabited by microbes. More complex organisms came to inhabit the state during the early Paleozoic era. At that time the state was covered by a warm shallow sea that would come to be inhabited by creatures like brachiopods, bryozoans, cephalopods, crinoids, and trilobites. During the Silurian period the state was home to significant reef systems. Indiana became a more terrestrial environment during the Carboniferous, as an expansive river system formed richly vegetated deltas where amphibians lived. There is a gap in the local rock record from the Permian through the Mesozoic. Likewise, little is known about the early to middle Cenozoic era. During the Ice Age however, the state was subject to glacial activity, and home to creatures like short-faced bears, camels, mammoths, and mastodons. After humans came to inhabit the state, Native Americans interpreted the fossil proboscidean remains preserved near Devil's Lake as the bones of water monsters. After the advent of formal scientific investigation one paleontological survey determined that the state was home to nearly 150 different kinds of prehistoric plants.

Paleontology in Illinois

Paleontology in Illinois refers to paleontological research occurring within or conducted by people from the U.S. state of Illinois. Scientists have found that Illinois was covered by a sea during the Paleozoic Era. Over time this sea was inhabited by animals including brachiopods, clams, corals, crinoids, sea snails, sponges, and trilobites.

Paleontology in Wisconsin

Paleontology in Wisconsin refers to paleontological research occurring within or conducted by people from the U.S. state of Wisconsin. The state has fossils from the Precambrian, much of the Paleozoic, and the later part of the Cenozoic. Most of the Paleozoic rocks are marine in origin. Because of the thick blanket of Pleistocene glacial sediment that covers the rock strata in most of the state, Wisconsin’s fossil record is relatively sparse. In spite of this, certain Wisconsin paleontological occurrences provide exceptional insights concerning the history and diversity of life on Earth.

Paleontology in Missouri

Paleontology in Missouri refers to paleontological research occurring within or conducted by people from the U.S. state of Missouri. The geologic column of Missouri spans all of geologic history from the Precambrian to present with the exception of the Permian, Triassic, and Jurassic. Brachiopods are probably the most common fossils in Missouri.

Paleontology in Minnesota

Paleontology in Minnesota refers to paleontological research occurring within or conducted by people from the U.S. state of Minnesota. The geologic record of Minnesota spans from Precambrian to recent with the exceptions of major gaps including the Silurian period, the interval from the Middle to Upper Devonian to the Cretaceous, and the Cenozoic. During the Precambrian, Minnesota was covered by an ocean where local bacteria ended up forming banded iron formations and stromatolites. During the early part of the Paleozoic era southern Minnesota was covered by a shallow tropical sea that would come to be home to creatures like brachiopods, bryozoans, massive cephalopods, corals, crinoids, graptolites, and trilobites. The sea withdrew from the state during the Silurian, but returned during the Devonian. However, the rest of the Paleozoic is missing from the local rock record. The Triassic is also missing from the local rock record and Jurassic deposits, while present, lack fossils. Another sea entered the state during the Cretaceous period, this one inhabited by creatures like ammonites and sawfish. Duckbilled dinosaurs roamed the land. The Paleogene and Neogene periods of the ensuing Cenozoic era are also missing from the local rock record, but during the Ice Age evidence points to glacial activity in the state. Woolly mammoths, mastodons, and musk oxen inhabited Minnesota at the time. Local Native Americans interpreted such remains as the bones of the water monster Unktehi. They also told myths about thunder birds that may have been based on Ice Age bird fossils. By the early 19th century, the state's fossil had already attracted the attention of formally trained scientists. Early research included the Cretaceous plant discoveries made by Leo Lesquereux.

Paleontology in Texas

Paleontology in Texas refers to paleontological research occurring within or conducted by people from the U.S. state of Texas. Author Marian Murray has remarked that "Texas is as big for fossils as it is for everything else." Some of the most important fossil finds in United States history have come from Texas. Fossils can be found throughout most of the state. The fossil record of Texas spans almost the entire geologic column from Precambrian to Pleistocene. Shark teeth are probably the state's most common fossil. During the early Paleozoic era Texas was covered by a sea that would later be home to creatures like brachiopods, cephalopods, graptolites, and trilobites. Little is known about the state's Devonian and early Carboniferous life. However, evidence indicates that during the late Carboniferous the state was home to marine life, land plants and early reptiles. During the Permian, the seas largely shrank away, but nevertheless coral reefs formed in the state. The rest of Texas was a coastal plain inhabited by early relatives of mammals like Dimetrodon and Edaphosaurus. During the Triassic, a great river system formed in the state that was inhabited by crocodile-like phytosaurs. Little is known about Jurassic Texas, but there are fossil aquatic invertebrates of this age like ammonites in the state. During the Early Cretaceous local large sauropods and theropods left a great abundance of footprints. Later in the Cretaceous, the state was covered by the Western Interior Seaway and home to creatures like mosasaurs, plesiosaurs, and few icthyosaurs. Early Cenozoic Texas still contained areas covered in seawater where invertebrates and sharks lived. On land the state would come to be home to creatures like glyptodonts, mammoths, mastodons, saber-toothed cats, giant ground sloths, titanotheres, uintatheres, and dire wolves. Archaeological evidence suggests that local Native Americans knew about local fossils. Formally trained scientists were already investigating the state's fossils by the late 1800s. In 1938, a major dinosaur footprint find occurred near Glen Rose. Pleurocoelus was the Texas state dinosaur from 1997 to 2009, when it was replaced by Paluxysaurus jonesi after the Texan fossils once referred to the former species were reclassified to a new genus.


Trinodus is a very small to small blind trilobite, a well known group of extinct marine arthropods, which lived during the Ordovician, in what are now the Yukon Territories, Virginia, Italy, Czech Republic, Poland, Denmark, Sweden, Svalbard, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Iran, Kazakhstan and China. It is one of the last of the Agnostida order to survive.

Geological history of the Precordillera terrane

The Precordillera terrane of western Argentina is a large mountain range located southeast of the main Andes mountain range. The evolution of the Precordillera is noted for its unique formation history compared to the region nearby. The Cambrian-Ordovian sedimentology in the Precordillera terrane has its source neither from old Andes nor nearby country rock, but shares similar characteristics with the Grenville orogeny of eastern North America. This indicates a rift-drift history of the Precordillera in the early Paleozoic. The Precordillera is a moving micro-continent which started from the southeast part of the ancient continent Laurentia. The separation of the Precordillera started around the early Cambrian. The mass collided with Gondwana around Late Ordovician period. Different models and thinking of rift-drift process and the time of occurrence have been proposed. This page focuses on the evidence of drifting found in the stratigraphical record of the Precordillera, as well as exhibiting models of how the Precordillera drifted to Gondwana.


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