(541 mya - present)
age of visible life"
mya - today)
mya - today)
(11 kya - today)
man radiates, "science" appears and eventually computers
and the Internet and Iphones become ubiquitous.
animals domesticated at ~ 13 kya. Mass extinction ongoing due to Man.
mya - 11K)
major extinction event of large mammals (megafauna), with mammoths,
mastodons, saber-toothed cats, glyptodons, ground sloths, cave bears,
and more disappearing.
appear and disappear; Homo erectus and Homo sapiens appear; Homo sapien
speech attained at ~ 75kya.
Stone age commences with a human extinction
near miss do to continuing ice age.
Glacial cycles pressure animals south
ancestors of modern humans (Hominids), the australopithecines, as well
as Homo habilis appear. Land and marine animals including mammals generally
modern. Cooler & drier climate reduces tropical plants as deciduous
forests as well as grasslands & savannas expand.
grasslands formed giving rise to new mammal forms, especially grazing
horses, rhinoceros, camels, & antelopes, & of course their predators. Many
primates & 1st bipedal apes. Mastodons (megafauna) appear late
Some 95% of plants are extant today; almost all extant bird families
present by epoch end, as well as about half of modern invertebrates.
Marine vertebrates diversify; whales reaching their maximum.
In the seas, vast proliferating kelp and algae fosters new vertebrate
and higher mammals (seals), marine life species & associated apex
predators like megalodon sharks.
of more modern animals continued, particularly among mammals (1st
seals & sea lions). Armadillos, predatory
marsupials, sloths, carnivorous ground birds evolve in South America.
Modern looking invertebrates (eg. bivalves, cephalopods, crustaceans,
echinoids & snails appear in increasingly complex
carbonate and coral reef systems.
Most modern bird forms present.
Grazers adapt to apex predators like the saber-toothed cat with
longer legs and speed. Oreodonts & other herebivores abundant.
North America develops diverse forests of deciduous
trees and conifers as well as expanded grasslands.
Begins with Grande Coupure extinction event where asian fauna
or flora replaces many european species.
ends with extinction event.
First grasses appear, a resource for herbovores;
Earth covered with forests, with rain forests in North America turning
to deciduous trees over epoch.
Snakes and turtles abundant and many new avian orders arise.
Insects abundant and appear modern.
Cartilaginous and ray-finned fish thrive worldwide.
Tremendous post Mesozoic mammal diversification: most extant placental
mammals appear: modern camels, cats, dogs, small dawn horses, rodents & 1st
true primates; 1st whales and sea cows.
plants (angiosperms begin radiation extending through the Eocene, fostered
by appearance and co-evolution with bees. Small mammals radiate.
- 65 mya)
- 66 mya)
with Cretaceous - Tertiary
(K–T) extinction event. Major
extinctions include non avian dinosaurs and ammonites Some 17% of
families, 50% of genera and 75% of species disappaer.
Tyrannosaurus and Mosasaurs appear
placental animals (early mammals); Also appearing: snakes; social marsupial
and primitive placental animals.|
New insect forms appear and radiate, including social
Hymenopterans and the
Orb weaver spiders (Family Araneidae) appear.
common, then decline; Archosaur
and dinosaurs small to huge apex predators common on land, and Chondrichthyes
fishes in the seas diversify.
theropod predators such as Allosaurus Ceratosaurus
Archaeopteryx transitional bird fossil from Solnhofen.
reptiles dominate the land through Jurassic, including herbivorous
sauropods (Camarasaurus, Apatosaurus, Diplodocus, Brachiosaurus).
flowering plants (angiosperms) appear at ~ 160 mya or earlier...
include birds; crabs; frogs and salamanders.
radiate to dominate the land.
begins to separate into Laurasia and Gondwana & Atlantic Ocean
Stegosauria & Brachiosaurus & Carnosauria theropod dinosaurs appear.
Conifers dominated the land.
Plesiosaurs became common.
include Pliosaurs, birds;
crabs; frogs salamanders & lepidopterans. |
Breakup of Pangaea begins.
even at ~ 200 mya killed some 23% of all families, 48% of all genera
(20% of marine families and 55% of marine genera) and 70% to 75%
First flowering plants.
Major extinction event: tabulate corals and conodonts disappear
- ammonoids, reptiles and amphibians decimated
Appearances include: dinosaurs (early theropods); crocodiles; marine
reptiles; turtles; Pterosauria and
mammals; Dermaptera insects.
Major new groups of seed plants appear.
||First termites and
small dinosaurs like Nyasasaurus
reptiles steadily replace sinapsids.
of planktonic organisms in lower food chain.|
belemite cephalopods appear.
Recovery slow from P-T extinction (~ 10 million years) due to low faunal & floral
diversity. Tetrapoda would take some 30 my to recover.
(541 - 252 mya)
- 252 mya)
great dying, the Permian-Triassic (P-T) extinction event at 251
mya eradicates 95% of all life, though most plants minimally affected.
Blastoids & remaining Proetid Trilobites,
& all but articulate crinoids dissapear forever.
- 252 mya)
plants become dominant, producing large trees.
Insect order Hemiptera.
The primitive amniotes radiate into ancestors of lizards, mammals, turtles,
- 272 mya)
10 miilion years for life to recover from P-T extinction.
First cycad seed plants.
Great insect diversity builds, along with
amphibians, diapsid tetrapods, and mammal-like synapsid reptiles like
Commenses with global warming.
"Age of Coal"
- 299 mya)
Conifers near end of epoch.
Diverse and common amphibians give rise to 1st reptiles
(possibly amniotic) at ~ 315 mya - reptiles become dominant tetrapods
The first true spiders (Order Araneae) appear sometime before
forests form, comprising scale trees, ferns, club trees, tree ferns,
winged insects. First beetles (Coleoptera) and
arthropods large, diverse, and the primary forest herbivores.
(359 - 323
diversity of marine
life across brachiopods, bryozoans, echinoderms
Land plants divide with seed plants to drier areas and lycopods to
- 359 mya)
"Age of Fishes"
extinction (F-F) lasting 20 my from ~ 375 mya killed some 19% of all
families, 50% of all genera and 70% of all species.
seeds evolved (Gymnosperms).
Land colonized by plants and animals. Appearances include: insects; sharks;
amphibians (tetrapods);nd the earliest seed plants. Extensive
radiation of fishes.
Rhizodont predatory lobe-finned
fishes appear at ~ 377 mya & dominate fresh water well into Pennsylvanian.
fundamentally recognizable as today, with roots, leaves
and wood etc.
First unequivocal insect fossil at ~ 396 mya.
First ammonites at ~ 400 mya.
(Trigonotarbida). Definitive Age of Fishes:
fish, the Sarcopterygii, at ~ 418 mya. Ray finned fish
appear ~ 420 mya & Cartilaginious
fish, the Chondrichthyes, appaer at ~ 422 mya.
Many primitive terrestrial
plants appear Cooksonia.
Eurypterids, the largest arthropods that ever lived, appear and become
common marine predators.
at ~ 430 mya.
First millipede one of earliest terretrial animals.
(443 - 433 mya)
(spiny sharks) appear
at ~ 430 mya.i
Supercontinent Gondwana covers equatorial
(485 - 443
"Great Ordovician Radiation" |
(458 - 443 mya)
event from ~ 450 mya lasted 10 my, killing 27% of families, 57% of
genera & 70% of species, only second to (P-T) extinction at end
Bryozoans appear & trilobites begin
rare & mostly replaced by complex reef systems.
(470 - 458 mya)
non-vascular land plant spores at ~ 460 mya or earlier,
Trilobites brachiopods, molluscs cephalopods and other mollucs, crinoids
and other echinoderms, graptolites,
Evidence of first jawed fish, the Gnathostomata at
~ 460 mya. Complex shallow water reef systems proliferate..
(485 - 470 mya)
with the great Ordovician radiation (Ordovician explosion), as life
from the Cambrian – Ordovician
extinction event (488 mya). Diversity eventually far exceeded that of
- 485 mya)
|Cambrian – Ordovician
event ended the Cambrian Period, where many brachiopods
and conodonts perished, and trilobites were severely reduced.
First Nautilods at ~ 495 mya.
First cephalopods & gastropods and Asterozoa (starfish & brttle stars)
- 497 mya)
include: vertebrates fish; small shelly animals mostly extinct
by end of early Cambrian (End-Botomian mass extinction); conodonts; trilobites radiate
repeatedly and reach their peak diversity.
- 509 mya)
plant forms evolved from green algae.
Numerous mollusc forms such as Bivalvia appear through Cambrian,
especially late, though phylogeny controversial, with conjecture
- 521 mya)
mass extinction from ~ 524 - 517 mya.
1st major radiation of animals when most phyla appear. Appearance
of hard parts and vision - macroscopic fossils become common.
Early chordate Haikouella,
and putative fish Haikouichthys and Myllokunmingia from Chengjiang
Biota @ ~ 525 mya.
as Crinozoa appear, likely from Ediacaran progenitprs.
fish, the Agnatha, at ~ 530 mya.
- 541 mya)
- 541 mya)
at end of Ediacaran.
Appearance of Tommotian mineralized
Fauna (small shelly animals)at ~ 550 mya: they radiate
Macroscopic, soft-bodied organisms radiating, the oldest metazoan (multicellular
animals) - fossils known as the Ediacaran
Biota, including trilobitamorphs, poriferans and other enigmatic
further, with their microbial mats providing a rich food source for
- 635 mya)
arise from cyanobacteria through endosymbiosis at
~ 1000 mya.
Acritarchs radiate, becoming widespread & some
perhaps eukaryotic and photosynthetic dinoflagellates or eukaryotic
- 1000 mya)
- 1000 mya)
supercontinent forms at ~ 1000 mya, setting stage - its breakup at
700 mya have played a role in the Cambrian
- 1200 mya)
green algae flagellates cover the seas; these photosynthetic eukaryotic
organisms are basal to vascular land plants to come.
- 1400 mya)
oxygen build-up continues desimating some prokaryotic bacteria, but
enabling replacement by newly evolved eukaryotic forms,
including photosynthetic multicellular algae.
- 1600 mya)
- 1600 mya)
"Boring Billion" years of evolutionary stasis begins.
complex single-celled life with aerobic metabolism begin diversification.
Approximate peak of stromatolites with
cyanobacteria oxygenating the atmosphere.
Fossilized filamentous algae (eukaryote)
at ~ 1700 mya.
- 1800 mya)
iron formation diminishes allowing atmosphere to oxygenate rapidly,
reaching ~ 15% at ~ 1800 mya.
- 2050 mya)
oldest known potential multicellular eukaryote is Grypania spiralis,
appearing as a coiled algae in 2100 mya banded iron formations in Michigan. stromatolites
Putative appearance of earliest
multicellular organisms at ~ 2100 mya.
Earliest known single-celled eukaryote fossils are acritarchs, which
become widespread at ~ 2100 mya.
are most common fossils of late Proterozoic.
Great Oxygenation Event (GOE) starts at 2300 mya, where photosynthetic
oxygen production builds to point of toxicity to
obligate anaerobic prokaryotes intolerant of oxygen, precipitating
their mass extinction.
- 2300 mya)
iron formation accelerates at ~ 2400 mya, continuing at high rate until
diminishing at ~ 1800 mya -- the rusting of the seas commences.
of oxygen by photosynthetic prokaryotes exceeds absorption in oceans
leading to beginning of atmospheric oxygenation at ~ 2450 mya.
(2800 - 2500 mya)
widespread by end of Archaean, producing prodigious ammount of oxygen
metabolic by product.
Columbia supercontinent forms at ~ 2500 mya.
suggest eukaryotes appeared at ~ 2700 mya, but this is not a widely
accepted view, with other estimates at ~ 3500 mya.
Atmospheric oxygen only ~ 1%.
(3200 - 2800 mya)
and Archaea); simple cell forms generate extensive stromatolite reef
systems. First acritarch microscopic fossils.
1st substantial free oxygen from photosynthetic archaea and bacteria
at ~ 3000 to 2300 mya, after which free oxygen produced by these prokaryotes
combined with dissolved iron in the oceans to form banded
iron formations until ~ 2000 to 1300 mya -- the
so-called rusting of the Earth.
Oldest life of Earth evidence that is not contested at ~ 3000 mya.
(3600 - 3200 mya)
Primitive Eukaryotes as
early as ~ 3500 mya after endosymbiosis.
Oxygenic photosynthetic cyanobacteria appear ~ 3500 mya.
fossils are stromatolites: Apex Chert at 3550 mya & Strelly
Pool at 3430 mya in Pilbara, Western Australia.
(4000 - 3600
banded iron formation at ~ 3700 mya.
photosynthetic prokaryotic bacteria appear at ~ 3500 mya.
Putative first appearance of life,
at ~ 3800 mya & is Archaea
or Bacteria, chemotrophic, anerobic, asexual, prokaryotes,
fairly soon after end of earth bombardment - no consensus for this geochemical-based
Oldest sedimentary rocks ~ 3800 mya.
Earth's crust cooled by ~ 4000 mya, but atmosphere comprised volcanic
gases and minimal oxygen.
The 1st oceans were formed.
(4100 - 4000 mya)
replicating RNA molecules might have appeared as early as 4000 mya.
Late heavy bombardment from space ends at around 4000 mya, setting
stage for life to appear.
Earth's oldest surviving rock from Canada dated at 4030 mya.
- 4100 mya)
begins with so-called Late Heavy Bombardment of Earth from space.
Crust formation continuing through Hadean, as does mountain building.
- 4300 mya)
derived from groupings of major lunar impact crators.
Water begins building in atmosphere.
As outer layer of Earth cools to thin crust, constantly disrupted by
- 4500 mya)
environment exceedingly hostile to life as we know it.
Meager geological evidence survives from this time, having been destroyed
by bombardment of earth from space projectiles, including the one that
putatively formed the moon.
Earth forms at ~ 4567 mya. Moon forms ~ 4533 mya due to some huge impact.
Earth essentially molten owing to volcanism and space collisions.
Solar system forming ~ 4600 mya.