The Ediacaran period (about 635–541 million years ago), was named after the Ediacara Hills of South Australia. It is the last geological period of the Proterozoiceon. The Edicaran is followed by the Cambrian, the first period of the Palaeozoic.
The period is famous for the first larger-bodied fossils, which are probably the first recorded metazoans. These were impressions or trace fossils, first found in England's Charnwood Forest, Leicestershire. Geologists did not know what they had found. It was over 60 years later before fossils from the same period were found in South Australia.
The status of the Ediacaran as an official geological period was confirmed in 2004 by the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS). This made it the first new geological period declared in 120 years.
The Ediacaran period was previously called the Vendian period. The Vendian period was proposed in 1952 by Russian geologist/paleontologist Boris Sokolov. The term Vendian is still widely used.
The two terms are not the same. The Vendian was a longer period: it included the whole of the
Marinoan glaciation, of Snowball Earth fame. In other words, the Vendian included the last part of the Cryogenian period.