Geologic Time Scale: The Paleozoic Era

Subdivisions and Ages of the Paleozoic Era

The Kaibab from South Kaibab Trail
Grand Canyon National Park/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

The Paleozoic era is the earliest and largest part of the Phanerozoic eon, lasting from 541 to 252.2 million years ago. The Paleozoic began shortly after the breakup of the supercontinent Pannotia and ended with the formation of Pangea. The era is also bookended by two incredibly important events in evolutionary history: the Cambrian Explosion and the Permian-Triassic Extinction

This table lists all of the periods, epochs, ages and dates of the Paleozoic era, with the oldest and youngest boundary of each period emboldened.

More details can be found beneath the table.

PeriodEpochAgeDates (Ma)
PermianLopingianChianghsingian254.1-252.2
Wuchiapingian259.8-254.1
GuadalupianCapitanian265.1-259.8
Wordian268.8-265.1
Roadian272.3-268.8
CisuralianKungurian283.5-272.3
Artinskian290.1-283.5
Sakmarian295.0-290.1
Asselian298.9-295.0
Pennsylvanian
(Carboniferous)
Late PennsylvanianGzhelian303.7-298.9
Kasimovian307.0-303.7
Middle PennsylvanianMoscovian315.2-307.0
Early PennsylvanianBashkirian323.2-315.2
Mississippian
(Carboniferous)
Late MississippianSerpukhovian330.9-323.2
Middle MississippianVisean346.7-330.9
Early MississippianTournaisian358.9-346.7
DevonianLate DevonianFamennian372.2-358.9
Frasnian382.7-372.2
Middle DevonianGivetian387.7-382.7
Eifelian393.3-387.7
Early DevonianEmsian407.6-393.3
Pragian410.8-407.6
Lochkovian419.2-410.8
SilurianPridoli 423.0-419.2
LudlowLudfordian425.6-423.0
Gorstian427.4-425.6
WenlockHomerian430.5-427.4
Sheinwoodian433.4-430.5
LlandoveryTelychian438.5-433.4
Aeronian440.8-438.5
Rhuddanian443.4-440.8
OrdovicianLate OrdovicianHirnantian445.2-443.4
Katian453.0-445.2
Sandbian458.4-453.0
Middle OrdovicianDarriwillian467.3-458.4
Dapingian470.0-467.3
Early OrdovicianFloian477.7-470.0
Tremadocian485.4-477.7
CambrianFurongianStage 10489.5-485.4
Jiangshanian494-489.5
Paibian497-494
Series 3Guzhangian500.5-497
Drumian504.5-500.5
Stage 5509-504.5
Series 2Stage 4514-509
Stage 3521-514
TerreneuvianStage 2529-521
Fortunian541-529
PeriodEpochAgeDates (Ma)
(c) 2013 Andrew Alden, licensed to About.com, Inc. (fair use policy). Data from Geologic Time Scale of 2015.


This geologic time scale represents the working edge of historical geology, showing the latest names and dates of the smallest divisions of geologic time that are universally recognized. The Paleozoic era is the first part of the Phanerozoic eon.

For anyone but specialists, the rounded-off dates in the Phanerozoic table are sufficient. Each of these dates also has a specified uncertainty, which you can look up at the source. For example, the Silurian and Devonian age boundaries have more than 2 million years uncertainty (± 2 Ma) and the Cambrian dates are still listed as approximate; however, the rest of the chronology is more securely known. 

The dates shown on this geologic time scale were specified by the International Commission on Stratigraphy in 2015, and the colors were specified by the Committee for the Geologic Map of the World in 2009.

Edited by Brooks Mitchell

Format
mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Alden, Andrew. "Geologic Time Scale: The Paleozoic Era." ThoughtCo, Mar. 9, 2017, thoughtco.com/geologic-time-scale-the-paleozoic-era-1440800. Alden, Andrew. (2017, March 9). Geologic Time Scale: The Paleozoic Era. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/geologic-time-scale-the-paleozoic-era-1440800 Alden, Andrew. "Geologic Time Scale: The Paleozoic Era." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/geologic-time-scale-the-paleozoic-era-1440800 (accessed November 18, 2017).