|Regional usage||Global (ICS)|
|Time scale(s) used||ICS Time Scale|
|Time span formality||Formal|
|Lower boundary definition||Defined Chronometrically|
|Lower GSSA ratified||1991|
|Upper boundary definition||Appearance of the Ichnofossil Treptichnus pedum|
|Upper boundary GSSP||Fortune Head section, Newfoundland, Canada|
|Upper GSSP ratified||1992|
The Proterozoic (IPA: / -, - -, - -, - -/, PROH-tər-ə-ZOH-ik, PROT-, -ər-oh-, -trə-, -troh-) is the third of the four geologic eons of Earth's history, spanning the time interval from 2500 to 538.8 Mya, the longest eon of the Earth's geologic time scale. It is preceded by the Archean and followed by the Phanerozoic, and is the most recent part of the Precambrian "supereon".
The Proterozoic is subdivided into three geologic eras (from oldest to youngest): the Paleoproterozoic, Mesoproterozoic and Neoproterozoic. It covers the time from the appearance of free oxygen in Earth's atmosphere to just before the proliferation of complex life on the Earth during the Cambrian Explosion. The name Proterozoic combines two forms of ultimately Greek origin: protero- meaning "former, earlier", and -zoic, meaning "of life".
Well-identified events of this eon were the transition to an oxygenated atmosphere during the Paleoproterozoic; the evolution of eukaryotes via symbiogenesis; several global glaciations, which produced the 300 million years-long Huronian glaciation (during the Siderian and Rhyacian periods of the Paleoproterozoic) and the hypothesized Snowball Earth (during the Cryogenian period in the late Neoproterozoic); and the Ediacaran period (635 to 538.8 Ma), which is characterized by the evolution of abundant soft-bodied multicellular organisms such as sponges, algae, cnidarians, bilaterians and the sessile Ediacaran biota (some of which had evolved sexual reproduction) and provides the first obvious fossil evidence of life on Earth.
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