The Proterozoic (2.5 Ga–545 Ma) is perhaps the most intriguing period in Earth’s history. In a typical high school physical science textbook it may be presented as a rather boring period that today’s student is happy to pass over in lieu of the Mesozoic and the extinction of Tyrannosaurus rex by a large asteroid. In reality this was a period full of excitement as it opens (in the PalaeoProterozoic) with low-latitude glaciation in concert with a rise in atmospheric oxygen. The Proterozoic ends with a glacial period and a possible rise in atmospheric oxygen levels. Other highlights of the Proterozoic include: three or more severe glacial events, a long period (1 billion years) of apparent warmth without evidence of glacial deposits, significant fluctuations in δC13, two or more periods where supercontinents were assembled, cap carbonates, banded iron formations, the rise of eukaryotes and the first complex life. The juxtaposition of extreme climate conditions and major evolutionary change among complex organisms during the Proterozoic is particularly puzzling, and begs the following question: What are the factors controlling the appearance of complex life?.