SINCLAIR STAMMERS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SINCLAIR STAMMERS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Ediacaran fossil. Fossil of a soft-bodied, multi-cellular organism (Tribrachidium heraldicum) from the Ediacaran Period (around 635 to 542 million years ago). Tribrachidium heraldicum (centre) is famous for its unusual tri-radial symmetry. Ediacaran Period lifeforms are the earliest known, complex, multicellular organisms. They appeared soon after the Cryogenian Period's glaciers melted, and largely disappeared soon before the rapid appearance of biodiversity known as the Cambrian explosion (around 500 million years ago). The important peculiarity of the Ediacaran fauna is the absolute dominance of soft-bodied animals.
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