Paleozoic Era

blue background with text paleozoic era 541 MILLION TO 252 MILLION YEARS AGO


During the Paleozoic Era (541 to 251.9 million years ago), fish diversified and marine organisms were very abundant. In North America, the Paleozoic is characterized by multiple advances and retreats of shallow seas and repeated continental collisions that formed the Appalachian Mountains. Common Paleozoic fossils include trilobites and cephalopods, as well as insects and ferns. The greatest mass extinction in Earth's history ended this era.

Paleozoic Resources

The Paleozoic Era is further divided in to seven periods/sub-periods: the Cambrian, the Ordovician, the Silurian, the Devonian, the Mississippian, the Pennsylvanian, the Permian. A few examples of NPS resources in each time Period are highlighted below, from youngest to oldest.

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    Paleozoic "Ancient Animal Life" Coloring Pages

    Visit—Paleozoic Parks

    Every park contains some slice of geologic time. Below, we highlight selected parks associated with Paleozoic Era. This is not to say that a particular park has only rocks from the specified period. Rather, rocks in selected parks exemplify a certain event or preserve fossils or rocks from a certain geologic age.

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      Part of a series of articles titled Geologic Time—Major Divisions and NPS Fossils.

      Previous: Mesozoic Era

      Next: The Precambrian


      Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument, Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area, Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, Blue Ridge Parkway, Buffalo National River, Canyonlands National Park, Carlsbad Caverns National Park, Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park, Chickasaw National Recreation Area, Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Death Valley National Park, Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, Denali National Park & Preserve, Dinosaur National Monument, Gates Of The Arctic National Park & Preserve, George Washington Memorial Parkway, Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Grand Canyon National Park, Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument, Grand Teton National Park, Great Basin National Park, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, Jewel Cave National Monument, Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, Kobuk Valley National Park, Lake Clark National Park & Preserve, Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Mammoth Cave National Park, Mississippi National River & Recreation Area, Natchez Trace Parkway, Natural Bridges National Monument, New River Gorge National Park & Preserve, Noatak National Preserve, Obed Wild & Scenic River, Ozark National Scenic Riverways, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Prince William Forest Park, Rock Creek Park, Russell Cave National Monument, Saguaro National Park, Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway, Shenandoah National Park, Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, Upper Delaware Scenic & Recreational River, Walnut Canyon National Monument, Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, Wind Cave National Park, Wrangell - St Elias National Park & Preserve, Yellowstone National Park, Yukon - Charley Rivers National Preserve more »

      Last updated: July 5, 2023