We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What are Some Ediacaran Organisms?

Michael Anissimov
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Ediacaran organisms lived during the Ediacaran period, a geologic period extending from approximately 635 to 542 million years ago. The Ediacaran includes the earliest known occurrence of multicellular organisms, which begin to appear in the fossil record 600 million years ago with small cnidarians (relatives of jellyfish and coral), poriferans (sponges), and early bilateral animals like Vernanimalcula.

Fossilized ediacaran organisms fall into two categories: the so-called Ediacaran fauna, a range of quilt and bag-like forms sometimes called "life's failed experiment," which went extinct before the end of the period, and other fauna that represented early examples of animals that continued into the Cambrian (immediately after the Ediacaran period) and beyond, which includes cnidarians, poriferans, and early bilaterians such as segmented worms. Confusingly, sometimes the word "Ediacaran fauna" refers to all organisms living during the Ediacaran period, while other times it refers just to the initial offshoot of multicellular organisms with a distinct quilted appearance. Some cladists even classify these in their own kingdom within the domain Eukaryota.

More than 100 genera of Ediacaran organisms have been described, including Pteridinium, Ediacaria, Marywadea, Charnia, Dickinsonia, Arkarua, Onega, and Yorgia. The relationship of Ediacaran organisms to contemporary forms is highly debated. Although no one has yet argued that chordates (animals with a backbone or notocord) can be found in the Ediacaran fossil record, it is argued that phyla such as mollusks, annelids, flatworms, nematodes, and others may have originated during this time.

One of the iconic Ediacaran organisms is Dickinsonia, a bilaterally symmetrical ribbed oval of unknown affinity. Dickinsonia ranged in size from 4 to 1400 millimetres, a very large degree of variation. It is thought to have displayed unbounded isometric growth, that is, it kept growing continuously until it died. The internals of Dickinsonia consist of spindle-like fibers 0.5-1 mm in diameter of unknown function.

Another iconic Ediacaran organism, Yorgia, looked like a cross between Dickinsonia and a segmented worm. Very long trails from Yorgia have been found, ranging up to 43 m (141 ft) have been found, suggesting strongly that the organism was mobile.

Another one of the famous Ediacaran organisms was Charnia, a frond-like animal whose discovery in 1957 caused the scientific community to take the idea of pre-Cambrian multicellular life seriously for the first time. Charnia, some samples of which exceed 2 m (6.5 ft) in length, is both temporally and geographically the most widespread Ediacaran fossil. Although initially classified as a relative of the sea pens, this interpretation has since been discredited. Very little is known about the ecology or life cycle of Charnia.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Michael Anissimov
By Michael Anissimov
Michael Anissimov is a dedicated WiseGeek contributor and brings his expertise in paleontology, physics, biology, astronomy, chemistry, and futurism to his articles. An avid blogger, Michael is deeply passionate about stem cell research, regenerative medicine, and life extension therapies. His professional experience includes work with the Methuselah Foundation, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence, and Lifeboat Foundation, further showcasing his commitment to scientific advancement.
Discussion Comments
Michael Anissimov
Michael Anissimov
Michael Anissimov is a dedicated WiseGeek contributor and brings his expertise in paleontology, physics, biology,...
Learn more
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.