First complex ecosystems formed in Ediacaran – millions of years earlier than thought

Ediacaran fossils show that the first animals began to specialise and develop ecological niches even before the “Cambrian explosion”.

artist depiction of ediacaran biome
Illustration of animals that existed during the Ediacaran period. These were bottom-dwelling marine animals and included Dickinsonia (flat, centre), Cloudina (with stacked rings) and Charnia (leaf-like). Credit: MARK GARLICK / Science Photo Library / Getty.