Period of evolutionary change in which groups of organisms form many new species whose adaptations allow them to fill vacant ecological roles in their communities.
An organic molecule possessing both carboxyl and amino groups. Amino acids serve as the monomers of polypeptides.
A member of a group of shelled cephalopods that were important marine predators for hundreds of millions of years until their extinction at the end of the Cretaceous period (65.5 mya).
A relatively brief time in geologic history when large, hard-bodied forms of animals with most of the major body plans known today appeared in the fossil record. This burst of evolutionary change occurred about 535-525 million years ago.
A process in which a unicellular organism (the "host") engulfs another cell, which lives within the host cell and ultimately becomes an organelle in the host cell; also refers to the hypothesis that mitochondria and plastids were formerly small prokaryotes that began living within larger cells.
The division of Earth's history into time periods, grouped into three eons—Archaean, Proterozoic, and Phanerozoic—and further subdivided into eras, periods, and epochs.
Evolutionary change above the species level, including the origin of a new group of organisms or a shift in the broad pattern of evolutionary change over a long period of time. Examples of macroevolutionary change include the appearance of major new features of organisms and the impact of mass extinctions on the diversity of life and its subsequent recovery.
A mammal, such as a koala, kangaroo, or opossum, whose young complete their embryonic development inside a maternal pouch called the marsupium.
Period of time when global environmental changes lead to the elimination of a large number of species throughout Earth.
The retention in an adult organism of the juvenile features of its evolutionary ancestors.
The supercontinent that formed near the end of the Paleozoic era, when plate movements brought all the landmasses of Earth together.
A collection of abiotically produced molecules surrounded by a membrane or membrane-like structure.
An isotope (an atomic form of a chemical element) that is unstable; the nucleus decays spontaneously, giving off detectable particles and energy.
A method for determining the absolute ages of rocks and fossils, based on the half-life of radioactive isotopes.
A hypothesis for the origin of eukaryotes consisting of a sequence of endosymbiotic events in which mitochondria, chloroplasts, and perhaps other cellular structures were derived from small prokaryotes that had been engulfed by larger cells.