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Carboniferous. The ages of the Earth

Carboniferous. The ages of the Earth


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The photo shows slate deposits of the Carboniferous on the north coast of the United Kingdom.

The Carboniferous is the fifth period of the Paleozoic. It dates from 360 to 300 million years ago. At this stage, most of the fossil fuels that we use today as energy resources originate.

The landscape of the Carboniferous was above all vegetable, with abundant marshes and swampy areas. The weather was humid and tropical. Swamp forests and tropical ecosystems proliferated. The huge ferns, up to 40 meters, covered wide areas. It is the time of giant dragonflies, huge cockroaches and other insects - especially flying ones -, amphibians and fish. The first reptiles will also appear.

The wide forests, through photosynthesis, produced an excess of oxygen in the atmosphere. It reached levels of up to 35% compared to the current 21%. This caused an ozone layer (O3) to form. Ozone began to act as a protective shield against ultraviolet rays, which allowed life to leave the oceans and conquer the earth.

Remains of carboniferous forests accumulated in swampy waters. The passage of time, the action of the bacteria, the heat and the pressure of the new sediments, transformed these vegetal remains into coal, between layers of silt and slate. Similarly, the remains of animals that accumulated near the coast gave rise to oil.

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Cambrian ExplosionMass extinctions
Album: Photos of the Earth and the Moon Gallery: The ages of the Earth