The Fossil History of Australia

Paleozoic Era - Silurian Period

(named after an ancient tribe called the Silures, who fought the Romans)

(434 to 408 million years ago)

In the Silurian era, Australia was still close to the equator, and a warmer time produced warmer seas, and a rise in the sea level.

Life was still abundant in the sea, and there is considerable evidence of the formation of coral reefs. Some of the caves of Australia, such as the Jenolan Caves near Sydney, were part of limestone deposits from the Silurian age. Excavation under Melbourne also indicates evidence of fossils of marine life of this period.

Many marine species, such as the trilobites, brachiopods and graptolites continued their presence during this time. Jawless vertebrates, early forms of fish, also were present in both the Ordovician and Silurian times.

During this time, more oxygen in the atmosphere allowed development of life to the land, and the remains of early colonization by plants and animals are found dating back to this time. Most early plant life was around the water's edge and inland areas would still have been barren.

The traces of primitive, leafless land plants have been found in Victoria. Some of the early Silurian plants are related to lycopods of today.

From the traces of its footprints, it has been established that one of the first forms of animal life to move to the land was a eurypterid, an early sea scorpion, which was most likely, a predator of other marine life.

Towards the end of the Silurian period, there was sufficient ozone to block out harmful radiation and from this time, life moved forward onto the available land masses.



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