The Cambrian Explosion and emergence of “modern” body plans

  • George H. Shaw
Part of the Springer Praxis Books book series (PRAXIS)


The Phanerozoic Era is so named because of the much richer fossil record starting about 550 million years ago, largely the result of animals having developed the capability of producing hard body parts, of either organic or mineral material. The Cambrian Explosion that led off the Phanerozoic saw the sudden (geologically speaking) appearance of virtually all of the basic body types seen in modern animals, including arthropods and vertebrates. The emergence of limbs gave new capabilities to these novel creatures leading to both more effective predation and resistance to same. Improved locomotion of “grazers” and predators may explain the extirpation of the Ediacaran fauna, as well as the rapid diversification of the “new” organisms.


Cambrian explosion Appendages Arthropods Locomotion Predation/predator Shell Exoskeleton Vertebrates Phanerozoic Burgess Shale Punctuated equilibrium 

Suggested Reading

  1. Wonderful Life, Stephen Jay Gould, 1989, Norton.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • George H. Shaw
    • 1
  1. 1.Geology DepartmentUnion CollegeSchenectadyUSA

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