Wetland plants, geysers and volcanoes during the Silurian period

Silurian period

The Silurian period was the time when reefs got their act together, grew really big and created a completely new type of ecosystem for marine life. Silurian reefs weren't built by the same types of coral around now, but by a host of tabulate and rugose corals, crinoids and sponges. As the Ordovician ice ages ended, sea levels rose, making the Silurian a period of extensive seas. Bony fish made their first appearance. Meanwhile, on land, plants became more established, and grew in a zone along the edges of rivers and lakes to give Earth its first riverine and wetland habitats.

Began: Ordovician-Silurian mass extinction
443 million years ago

Ended: 417 million years ago

What the Earth was like

A map of the Earth in the Archean Era

Reconstruction of the Earth in the Archean era, 3.8 billion - 2.5 billion years ago. Credit: Dr Ron Blakey, NAU Geology.

Causes of extinctions

During this period the following extinction level events are thought to have occurred.

Climate change Climate change
Earth's climate is not constant. Over geological time, the Earth's dominant climate has gone from ice age to tropical heat and from steamy jungles to searing deserts.

Types of fossils formed in this period