Vendian animal collage

Learning About the Vendian Animals

What was life like 560 million years ago? The Vendian marks the first appearance of a group of large fossils collectively known as the "Vendian biota" or "Ediacara fauna." The question of what these fossils are is still not settled to everyone's satisfaction; at various times they have been considered algae, lichens, giant protozoans, or even a separate kingdom of life unrelated to anything livingtoday. Some of these fossils are simple blobs that are hard to interpret and could represent almost anything. Some are most like cnidarians, worms, or soft-bodied relatives of the arthropods. Others are less easy to interpret and may belong to extinct phyla. But besides the fossils of soft bodies, Vendian rocks contain trace fossils, probably made by wormlike animals slithering over mud. The Vendian rocks thus give us, and YOU through our virtual museum, a good look at the first animals to live on Earth.

Click on the pictures below to learn about each one:

Cyclomedusa Charnia Eoporpita Nemiana Pteridinium
Arkarua Dickinsonia Spriggina Tribrachidium Kimberella

To learn more, visit our exhibit on the Vendian or our pages on the Winter Coast of Russia and the Ediacara Hills of Australia, where these fossils were found and collected.

For more pictures of early life, visit the Prekambrium exhibit at the Paleontology Museum in Oslo (text is in Norwegian). Or read a lecture on The Radiation of the First Animals given by our own Jere Lipps.

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