Earliest plants and animals

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


The eukaryote cell and it’s more complicated DNA eventually gave rise to multicellular organisms with differentiated cells and segmentation. The earliest examples (the so-called Ediacaran fauna) are known from fossils of soft-bodied organisms in late Precambrian rocks. The fossil record of these creatures is good enough to indicate the existence of an ecosystem with a variety of types, and examples are known from around the world, suggesting wide dispersal. Examples of primitive sponges, jellyfish and worms, similar to modern forms, are also known from fossil remains in many locations. The Ediacarans became extinct in early Cambrian time, in one of the earliest mass extinctions, but several of the other families survived the great innovations of the Cambrian explosion.


Multicellular Segment/segmented Plants Animals Ediacaria/Ediacaran Sponge Jellyfish Worm burrows Extinction 

Suggested Reading

  1. The Garden of Ediacara, Mark A. S. McMenamin, 1998, Columbia.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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