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LET'S EXPLORE Prehistoric life

What lived in the Carboniferous swamps?

Eryops, giant amphibiansEryops, giant amphibiansAround 350 million years ago, hot, steamy jungle covered large areas of the world’s continents. The Carboniferous Period had begun. Giant dragonflies the size of seagulls flitted among the trees. Huge centipedes and amphibians lurked in the swampy undergrowth. The coal we have today was formed from peat. This is a dark soil that was produced from layers of rotting plants growing in these swamps.


A tropical swamp in Carboniferous North AmericaA tropical swamp in Carboniferous North America


Hylonomus, an early reptileHylonomus, an early reptile

First reptiles

Some amphibians became able to lay their eggs on land. This meant they did not now need to return to the water: they could live on dry land all the time. These animals, the first reptiles, multiplied and spread all over the world.




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Carboniferous comes from the Latin words carbo, meaning "coal", and ferre "to carry" or "to bear". Many coal beds across the world were formed during the Carboniferous Period. They are still mined for coal today.

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