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Bats are an example of abrupt appearance in the fossils record, without much subsequent modification of their body plan. This exquisitely preserved and articulated specimen (about 15 cm in size) is on display at the Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, and comes from Eocene strata of Fossil Lake Basin, Wyoming.
This is a specimen (several cm in size) of a fossil jawless fish, from the Devonian of Wyoming, on display at the Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago. Several groups of fish (like the ostracoderms, to which this fish belongs) appear suddenly in the rock record, without many intermediates.
Dickinsonia is one of the macroscopic fossils found in the geologic layers just below the Cambrian. It is part of the so called "Ediacaran biota." There is no modern animal that has a similar body plan, so its mode of life remains a bit of a mystery. Specimen (several cm in size) on display at the Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago.
Exceptional preservation of organisms without hard skeletal parts, like this spider, requires special conditions for fossilization. Spiders appear abruptly in the fossil record. This is a Cretaceous specimen (few cm in size) of Dinodiplura ambulacra from the Crato Formation of Brazil, on display at the Paleontological Museum in Santana do Cariri.
Flowering plants appear abruptly in the fossil record in Mesozoic strata. Here is an example of an exquisitely preserved sycamore-like leaf from the Cretaceous of Kansas. Specimen (several cm in size) on display at the Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago.
Snakes appear in the fossil record in Mesozoic layers. Here is a cast of a fully articulated specimen from the Cretaceous of Bosnia-Herzegovina, on display at the Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago.