Prehistoric Creatures Unit Study - Lesson 4: Paleozoic Era

We watched several videos to learn about significant evolutionary changes which took place during the Paleozoic Era.

Time Periods in the Paleozoic Era; Cambrian, Ordovician, Silurian, Devonian, Carboniferous and Permian.

The Cambrian Period was the first time of widespread life on Earth. While the land was barren, the seas saw an explosion of life. The single celled organisms of the Precambrian developed into multi celled creatures. At first creatures had soft bodies, but during the Cambrian Period, the first shells were developed.

During the Ordovician Period the warm shallow seas were filled with trilobites, sea scorpions and coral. Nautiloids evolved and after 25 million years of volcanic eruptions, the atmosphere was filled with carbon dioxide. The major evolutionary advancement of the backbone led to the evolution of the first fish.

The above video was my children's favorite as it featured Nigel, who traveled back in time to venture into the ancient seas. In addition to featuring the Ordovician Seas, Nigel explored other prehistoric environments.

The Silurian Period gave rise to the first land based plants. The evolution of jaws was a major event as predators became much more dangerous.

During the Devonian Period large armored fish ruled the seas and the first sharks evolved. The air was rich with oxygen, and the first creatures developed the capabilities of breathing air and walking on land. Plants which had evolved during earlier periods became numerous upon the land. Forests began to grow and the shade proved by the trees provided shelter for land animals.

The above video explores the links between prehistoric creatures in search of the first tetrapods.

This was the age of giant insects as 80% of the atmosphere was filled with oxygen. The mass of trees led to the first dirt. Creatures developed the capability to produce hard shelled and amniotic eggs which led to the evolution of mammals and reptiles. Hearing developed and the relationship between carnivores and herbivores was established.

During the Permian Period mammals and reptiles continued to evolve on land.

Paleozoic Era
Overall the Paleozoic Era saw major changes in life on Earth. From single celled organisms to shells, backbones, jaws, limbs, lungs and eggs - specialization was beginning to take place. The video linked below covers the entire era.

To remember the major events of the Paleozoic Era, we created a song to the tune of Little Bunny Fu-Fu.

5-4-3-2-1 Boom
4.5 billion years ago the Earth was formed
Single celled bacteria lived in blue-green water

5-4-3-2-1 Frozen
Carbon dioxide levels fell and Earth became a snowball
Volcanoes warmed the Earth after 25 million years

C-O-S-D-C-P Cambrian
Multi-celled creatures evolved in the seas
First they had soft bodies, then some developed shells

C-O-S-D-C-P Ordovician
Shallow seas, warm water, lots of carbon dioxide
The first fish developed without any jaws

C-O-S-D-C-P  Silurian
Creatures developed backbones and fish got jaws
Plants began to grow upon the land

C-O-S-D-C-P Devonian
The air was full of oxygen and forest began to grow
Tetrapods with four limbs walked upon the land

C-O-S-D-C-P Carboniferous
Giant insects flew about in oxygen rich air
Reptiles evolved with shelled eggs and hard scales

C-O-S-D-C-P Permian
The first mammals evolved and they could hear
Reptiles ruled the land until..............

5-4-3-2-1 Boom
Volcanoes erupted for hundreds of thousands of years
Acid rain, volcanic winters, the food chain collapsed

Carbon dioxide in the air warmed the Earth and sea
95% of species died but some survived


Creatures which lived during the Paleozoic Era were added to our timeline.

Check out these great blogs full of educational activity ideas. 


  1. Just wanted to say thank you so much for posting in such detail. We have been studying this period and have been constantly referring back to your posts and video links! So very helpful!

    1. You're welcome. That's good to hear because it took me a long time to understand each of the different time periods.


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