The Ediacaran began 635 million years ago, and it ended 541 million years ago. It was a period when abundant fossils of large multicellular life appeared for the first time. These organisms were totally different from the ones which live today. Before the Ediacaran, most lifeforms were single-celled or chains of cells and very tiny. There were blue algae which built reefs and they produced a huge amount of oxygen. This made the development of higher animal life possible. However, Ediacaran fossils are often difficult to place in the tree of life; scientists often disagree on which fossils are plants, animals, fungi, or possibly none of the above! Ediacaran lifeforms tended to be fragile with shallow roots dug into mats of bacteria. The Ediacaran ended when worms evolved and destroyed the mats that Ediacaran life depended upon. The Ediacaran was a period of fluctuating tempuratures, the climate getting warmer after a very long ice age known as a snowball earth event. While there was a brief glaciation 7 million years after complex life appeared, most of this period was ice free.
On the picture, you can see typical animals from the Ediacaran like Charnia, Dickinsonia and Spriggina. In the background there are the reefs which were built by the blue algae. These blue algae are also called cyanobacteria and their reef structures are called stromatolites.
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