Ancient Species -

Any eukaryotes which are not animals, plants or fungi are classified as "protists". This group includes various unrelated types of algae.

Other than algae, the protists most commonly found in fossils area radiolaria. Radiolaria are tiny creatures, from 30 microns to 2 mm in diameter, found in plankton drifting in the oceans. They have glassy silica skeletons, often of perfect complex geometric shapes. These skeletons are often found as microfossils dating back as far as the Cambrian Period (590 to 505 million years ago). They proliferated throughout the Mesozoic Era. The "great extinction" at the end of the Mesozoic Era reduced their numbers but not as much as for other types of plankton


Other types of protists, such as amoeba, cilliates and slime moulds have no hard parts and fossil records are extremely rare. 

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