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Carboniferous flora and fauna

Carboniferous flora and fauna

This animation presents some animals and plants that lived between the Devonian and Permian periods (358-299 million years ago).

Biology

Keywords

prehistoric creature, history of the Earth, karbon, geologic epoch, fossil, extinct, meganeura, arthropleura, acantostega, edaphosaurus, sigillaria, calamites, tree fern, cordaites, Devonian period, Permian period, coal, petroleum, synapsids, fern, centipede, flora, fauna, herbivore, flora and fauna, arthropods, arthropod, vertebrates, biology, animal

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Scenes

Flora and fauna

Meganeura

  • Meganeura monyi
  • head
  • thorax
  • long abdomen
  • compound eyes
  • chewing mouthparts
  • three pairs of legs
  • transparent wings
  • maximum wingspan: 65 cm (25.59 in)

Meganeura

Meganeura monyi is the largest flying insect that ever lived on Earth. It had a wingspan of up to 65 centimeters (25.59 inches).

Meganeura monyi is similar to today's dragonflies, though much larger in size. There are numerous theories to explain the insect’s gigantic size. According to one of them, it was due to the atmosphere’s high oxygen content (35%) in the Carboniferous period that the Meganeura monyi grew so huge.

This predatory insect could prey on small amphibians. Fossils of the animal have so far been found in France and England.

Arthropleura

  • Arthropleura
  • head
  • antenna
  • body composed of identical segments
  • arthropod leg
  • length: max. 2 m (6.56 ft)

Arthropleura

Arthropleura is a group of arthropods that lived in present-day North America and Scotland during the Carboniferous period. Arthropleura species were relatives of centipedes and millipedes.

They were the largest arthropods to have ever lived on Earth; some of them reached a length of up to 2.3 meters (7.55 feet). It was due to the atmosphere’s high oxygen content and the lack of terrestrial vertebrate predators that they grew so large. Their fossilized mouthparts are yet to be discovered, but it is assumed that these gigantic animals were herbivores.

Acanthostega

  • Acanthostega gunnari
  • wide, flat head
  • undeveloped feet (8 digits)
  • tail-fin with fin rays
  • length: 50–55 cm (19.69–21.65 in)

Acanthostega

Acanthostega gunnari was among the first vertebrate animals with four limbs. It had both gills and lungs.

The animal could reach 60 centimeters (23.62 in) in length. Its fossils were found in fossilized sediment of rivers. It had two pairs of undeveloped limbs, similar to each other in structure, with no wrist or ankle joints so these could barely have supported the animal’s weight on land. As a result, it is assumed that the Acanthostega gunnari rarely walked on land and spent most of the time in the water.

Edaphosaurus

  • Edaphosaurus
  • small head
  • dorsal sail
  • short, strong legs
  • length: 2–3 m (6.56–9.84 ft)

Edaphosaurus

This synapsyd (mammal-like reptile) is among the first herbivores to have ever lived on Earth. The Edaphosaurus could reach 3.5 meters (11.48 feet) in length. It had a wide body, a thick tail and a small skull. There was a sail on its back, an arching skin membrane supported by vertebral spines. Fossils of the animal were found in the USA, the Czech Republic and Germany.

Animals

  • Edaphosaurus
  • Meganeura monyi
  • Arthropleura
  • Acanthostega gunnari

Plants

  • cordaites - This genus of extinct plants is the relative of today's conifers. It could grow up to 30 meters (98.43 feet) tall; it was one of the tallest trees in the Paleozoic era.
  • calamites - A genus of extinct horsetails. The largest horsetail to have ever lived could grow up to 30 meters (98.43 feet) tall.
  • sigillaria - A genus of extinct lycopsids. This 20-30 meters (65.62-98.43 feet) tall plant grew in swamps and its forked trunk was covered with the bases of fallen leaves. It had grass-like leaves.
  • tree fern - This plant that belonged to the class Pteridopsida could grow up to 20 meters (65.62 feet) tall. It has extant relatives with similar shape and height.

Animation

  • Meganeura monyi
  • compound eyes
  • chewing mouthparts
  • three pairs of legs
  • transparent wings
  • maximum wingspan: 65 cm (25.59 in)
  • Arthropleura
  • head
  • antenna
  • body composed of identical segments
  • arthropod leg
  • length: max. 2 m (6.56 ft)
  • Acanthostega gunnari
  • wide, flat head
  • undeveloped feet (8 digits)
  • tail-fin with fin rays
  • length: 50–55 cm (19.69–21.65 in)
  • Edaphosaurus
  • small head
  • dorsal sail
  • short, strong legs
  • length: 2–3 m (6.56–9.84 ft)

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