Vendian stratigraphy Vendian ancient life Vendian localities

Life of the Vendian

What was life like 560 million years ago? Bacteria and green algae were common in the seas, as were the enigmatic acritarchs, planktonic single-celled algae of uncertain affinity. But the Vendian also 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 living today. 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.

Tribrachidium UCMP Special Exhibit: Vendian Animals
Ben Waggoner has worked extensively with the troublesome creatures of the Vendian. You can learn about these earliest animals in his exhibit.

Read about the Vendian Mass Extinction at the Hooper Virtual Paleontology Museum.

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