== CARBONIFEROUS PERIOD 355 - 299 Million Years Ago == The atmosphere has 3 times more Oxygen than in the Present Day. Mass fern forests spread across the Planet. Monster Insects and Arthropods dominate the Earth. Reptiles first Evolve. Interestingly, the fern relatives, are not true trees, but they are just as big – many of these now extinct plants, reached some 50 metres into the air, and the tallest may have been up to twice that, though rarely. The weird and wonderful creatures that existed in the Carboniferous Forests, fought for survival in an intense, world of monsters. Whether it be the Giant Amphibians, Giant-Millipede relatives, (Arthropleurids) Huge primitive Arachnids, (not true spiders, or scorpions, but an extinct family of their own, somewhere in-between) Hawk-sized Dragonflies, Killer Rhizodont swamp-fish, Whip Scorpions and who knows what else yet to be found, something would always be waiting to strike in the Carboniferous. To exacerbate things even more, the extreme Oxygen levels in the atmosphere, would unwittingly allow even the slightest spark – such as a lightning strike – to set off an inferno, that would rip through hundreds of square miles of swamp-forest. Not a holiday destination for the time-travellers of the future, no doubt. In the seas, the sharks have continued on, and now dominate the food chain – though not forever, as the Marine reptiles will one day oust them from power, although that will be in the Triassic, around 100 million years from now. The most important legacy of the Carboniferous, for us humans at least, is the very namesake of the Period – Carboniferous, comes from the Latin word for coal, carbo. Carboniferous means "coal-bearing". Many beds of coal were laid down all over the world during this period, hence the name. As the vast forests lost plants, the dead plants compacted, and were crushed by the newer layers, and so on and so forth, year after year – for millions of years. Most of the worlds Coal, and oil, comes from the Carboniferous Period. The Carboniferous was a time of glaciation, low sea level and mountain building; a minor marine extinction event occurred in the middle of this period. The early part of the Carboniferous was mostly warm; in the later part of the Carboniferous, the climate cooled. Glaciations in Gondwana, triggered by Gondwana's southward movement, continued into the Permian and because of the lack of clear markers and breaks, the deposits of this glacial period are often referred to as Permo-Carboniferous in age. Just think about it – would we humans have advanced as rapidly as we have in the last 250 years, if it were not for the coal that fuelled the Industrial Revolution? Indeed, would technology have advanced fast enough for you to be reading this now?