Plants Come Ashore

450 million years
or 110 meters to today

Geolo­gical era: Paleo­zoic / Ordovician

The first plants and insects conquer the land and many new species emerge. A trop­ical climate prevails, but the plants funda­ment­ally change it: they bind carbon diox­ide (a green­house gas) from the atmo­sphere, the temper­at­ure on earth drops. At the same time, the oxygen content of the atmo­sphere increases. The chem­istry of the sea is also chan­ging. The large contin­ent of Gond­wana is drift­ing over the South Pole. All these factors together trig­ger the second major extinc­tion of species in the history of the Earth.

The super­con­tin­ent Gond­wana forms a large land mass in the south­ern hemi­sphere. Further north, Lauren­tia and Balt­ica approach each other. Large parts of the contin­ents are initially covered by shal­low warm seas. However, the drop in temper­at­ure caused by plant meta­bol­ism leads to a new ice age.

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