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Earth Time Line
(source: Wikipedia)
Mineral Collection
Mineral Collection Copyright ©2007 Gabriel Ditu
Eon Era Period[2] Epoch Major Events Start, Million
Years Ago[3]
Cenozoic Neogene[4] Holocene End of recent glaciation and rise of modern civilization. 0.011430 0.00013[5]
Pleistocene Flourishing and then extinction of many large mammals (Pleistocene megafauna). Evolution of anatomically modern humans. 1.806 0.005 *
Pliocene Intensification of present ice age; cool and dry climate. Australopithecines, many of the existing genera of mammals, and recent mollusks appear. Homo habilis appears. 5.332 0.005 *
Miocene Moderate climate; Orogeny in northern hemisphere. Modern mammal and bird families became recognizable. Horses and mastodons diverse. Grasses become ubiquitous. First apes appear. 23.03 0.05 *
Oligocene Warm climate; Rapid evolution and diversification of fauna, especially mammals. Major evolution and dispersal of modern types of flowering plants 33.90.1 *
Eocene Archaic mammals (e.g. Creodonts, Condylarths, Uintatheres, etc) flourish and continue to develop during the epoch. Appearance of several "modern" mammal families. Primitive whales diversify. First grasses. Reglaciation of Antarctica; current ice age begins. 55.80.2 *
Paleocene Climate tropical. Modern plants appear; Mammals diversify into a number of primitive lineages following the extinction of the dinosaurs. First large mammals (up to bear or small hippo size). 65.50.3 *
Mesozoic Cretaceous Upper/Late Flowering plants proliferate, along with new types of insects. More modern teleost fish begin to appear. Ammonites, belemnites, rudist bivalves, echinoids and sponges all common. Many new types of dinosaurs (e.g. Tyrannosaurs, Titanosaurs, duck bills, and horned dinosaurs) evolve on land, as do modern crocodilians; and mosasaurs and modern sharks appear in the sea. Primitive birds gradually replace pterosaurs. Monotremes, marsupials and placental mammals appear. Break up of Gondwana. 99.60.9 *
Lower/Early 145.5 4.0
Jurassic Upper/Late Gymnosperms (especially conifers, Bennettitales and cycads) and ferns common. Many types of dinosaurs, such as sauropods, carnosaurs, and stegosaurs. Mammals common but small. First birds and lizards. Ichthyosaurs and plesiosaurs diverse. Bivalves, Ammonites and belemnites abundant. Sea urchins very common, along with crinoids, starfish, sponges, and terebratulid and rhynchonellid brachiopods. Breakup of Pangaea into Gondwana and Laurasia. 161.2 4.0
Middle 175.6 2.0 *
Lower/Early 199.6 0.6
Triassic Upper/Late Archosaurs dominant on land as dinosaurs, in the oceans as Ichthyosaurs and nothosaurs, and in the air as pterosaurs. cynodonts become smaller and more mammal-like, while first mammals and crocodilia appear. Dicrodium flora common on land. Many large aquatic temnospondyl amphibians. Ceratitic ammonoids extremely common. Modern corals and teleost fish appear, as do many modern insect clades. 228.0 2.0
Middle 245.0 1.5
Lower/Early 251.0 0.4 *
Paleozoic Permian Lopingian Landmasses unite into supercontinent Pangaea, creating the Appalachians. End of Permo-Carboniferous glaciation. Synapsid reptiles (pelycosaurs and therapsids) become plentiful, while parareptiles and temnospondyl amphibians remain common. In the mid-Permian, coal-age flora are replaced by cone-bearing gymnosperms (the first true seed plants) and by the first true mosses. Beetles and flies evolve. Marine life flourishes in warm shallow reefs; productid and spiriferid brachiopods, bivalves, forams, and ammonoids all abundant. Permian-Triassic extinction event occurs 251 mya: 95 percent of life on Earth becomes extinct, including all trilobites, graptolites, and blastoids. 260.4 0.7 *
Guadalupian 270.6 0.7 *
Cisuralian 299.0 0.8 *
Upper/Late Winged insects radiate suddenly; some (esp. Protodonata and Palaeodictyoptera) are quite large. Amphibians common and diverse. First reptiles and coal forests (scale trees, ferns, club trees, giant horsetails, Cordaites, etc.). Highest-ever oxygen levels. Goniatites, brachiopods, bryozoa, bivalves, and corals plentiful in the seas. Testate forams proliferate. 306.5 1.0
Middle 311.7 1.1
Lower/Early 318.1 1.3 *
Upper/Late Large primitive trees, first land vertebrates, and amphibious sea-scorpions live amid coal-forming coastal swamps. Lobe-finned rhizodonts are big fresh-water predators. In the oceans, early sharks are common and quite diverse; echinoderms (esp. crinoids and blastoids) abundant. Corals, bryozoa, goniatites and brachiopods (Productida, Spiriferida, etc.) very common. But trilobites and nautiloids decline. Glaciation in East Gondwana. 326.4 1.6
Middle 345.3 2.1
Lower/Early 359.2 2.5 *
Devonian Upper/Late First clubmosses, horsetails and ferns appear, as do the first seed-bearing plants (progymnosperms), first trees (the tree-fern Archaeopteris), and first (wingless) insects. Strophomenid and atrypid brachiopods, rugose and tabulate corals, and crinoids are all abundant in the oceans. Goniatite ammonoids are plentiful, while squid-like coleoids arise. Trilobites and armoured agnaths decline, while jawed fishes (placoderms, lobe-finned and ray-finned fish, and early sharks) rule the seas. First amphibians still aquatic. "Old Red Continent" of Euramerica. 385.3 2.6 *
Middle 397.5 2.7 *
Lower/Early 416.0 2.8 *
Silurian Pridoli First vascular plants (the whisk ferns and their relatives), first millipedes and arthropleurids on land. First jawed fishes, as well as many armoured jawless fish, populate the seas. Sea-scorpions reach large size. Tabulate and rugose corals, brachiopods (Pentamerida, Rhynchonellida, etc.), and crinoids all abundant. Trilobites and mollusks diverse; graptolites not as varied. 418.7 2.7 *
Upper/Late (Ludlow) 422.9 2.5 *
Wenlock 428.2 2.3 *
Lower/Early (Llandovery) 443.7 1.5 *
Ordovician Upper/Late Invertebrates diversify into many new types (e.g., long straight-shelled cephalopods). Early corals, articulate brachiopods (Orthida, Strophomenida, etc.), bivalves, nautiloids, trilobites, ostracods, bryozoa, many types of echinoderms (crinoids, cystoids, starfish, etc.), branched graptolites, and other taxa all common. Conodonts (early planktonic vertebrates) appear. First green plants and fungi on land. Ice age at end of period. 460.9 1.6 *
Middle 471.8 1.6
Lower/Early 488.3 1.7 *
Cambrian Upper/Late (Furongian) Major diversification of life in the Cambrian Explosion. Many fossils; most modern animal phyla appear. First chordates appear, along with a number of extinct, problematic phyla. Reef-building Archaeocyatha abundant; then vanish. Trilobites, priapulid worms, sponges, inarticulate brachiopods (unhinged lampshells), and many other animals numerous. Anomalocarids are giant predators, while many Ediacaran fauna die out. Prokaryotes, protists (e.g., forams), fungi and algae continue to present day. Gondwana emerges. 501.0 2.0 *
Middle 513.0 2.0
Lower/Early 542.0 0.3 *
Ediacaran Good fossils of multi-celled animals. Ediacaran fauna (or Vendobionta) flourish worldwide in seas. Trace fossils of worm-like Trichophycus, etc. First sponges and trilobitomorphs. Enigmatic forms include oval-shaped Dickinsonia, frond-shaped Charniodiscus, and many soft-jellied creatures. 630

+5/-30 *

Cryogenian Possible "snowball Earth" period. Fossils still rare. Rodinia landmass begins to break up. 850 [8]
Tonian Rodinia supercontinent persists. Trace fossils of simple multi-celled eukaryotes. First radiation of dinoflagellate-like acritarchs. 1000 [8]
Stenian Narrow highly metamorphic belts due to orogeny as supercontinent Rodinia is formed. 1200 [8]
Ectasian Platform covers continue to expand. Green algae colonies in the seas. 1400 [8]
Calymmian Platform covers expand. 1600 [8]
Statherian First complex single-celled life: protists with nuclei. Columbia is the primordial supercontinent. 1800 [8]
Orosirian The atmosphere became oxygenic. Vredefort and Sudbury Basin asteroid impacts. Much orogeny. 2050 [8]
Rhyacian Bushveld Formation occurs. Huronian glaciation. 2300 [8]
Siderian Oxygen Catastrophe: banded iron formations result. 2500 [8]
Neoarchean Stabilization of most modern cratons; possible mantle overturn event. 2800 [8]
Mesoarchean First stromatolites (probably colonial cyanobacteria). Oldest macrofossils. 3200 [8]
Paleoarchean First known oxygen-producing bacteria. Oldest definitive microfossils. 3600 [8]
Eoarchean Simple single-celled life (probably bacteria and perhaps archaea). Oldest probable microfossils. 3800
Formation of earth (4570 mya). Oldest known mineral, zircon (4400 mya). c.4570

References and footnotes
  1. (1974) Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd ed. (in Russian), Moscow: Sovetskaya Enciklopediya, vol. 16, p. 50. 
  2. Paleontologists often refer to faunal stages rather than geologic (geological) periods. The stage nomenclature is quite complex. See The Paleobiology Database. Retrieved on 2006-03-19. for an excellent time ordered list of faunal stages.
  3. Dates are slightly uncertain with differences of a few percent between various sources being common. This is largely due to uncertainties in radiometric dating and the problem that deposits suitable for radiometric dating seldom occur exactly at the places in the geologic column where they would be most useful. The dates and errors quoted above are according to the International Commission on Stratigraphy 2004 time scale. Dates labeled with a * indicate boundaries where a Global Boundary Stratotype Section and Point has been internationally agreed upon: see List of Global Boundary Stratotype Sections and Points for a complete list.
  4. Historically, the Cenozoic has been divided up into the Quaternary and Tertiary sub-eras, as well as the Neogene and Paleogene periods. However, the International Commission on Stratigraphy has recently decided to stop endorsing the terms Quaternary and Tertiary as part of the formal nomenclature.
  5. The start time for the Holocene epoch is here given as 11,430 years ago 130 years (that is, between 9610 B.C. and 9350 B.C.). For further discussion of the dating of this epoch, see Holocene.
  6. In North America, the Carboniferous is subdivided into Mississippian and Pennsylvanian Periods.
  7. The Proterozoic, Archean and Hadean are often collectively referred to as the Precambrian or Cryptozoic.
  8. Defined by absolute age (Global Standard Stratigraphic Age).
  9. Though commonly used, the Hadean is not a formal eon and no lower bound for the Archean has been agreed upon. The Hadean has also sometimes been called the Priscoan or the Azoic. Sometimes, the Hadean can be found to be subdivided according to the lunar geologic time scale. These eras include the Cryptic and Basin Groups (which are subdivisions of the pre-Nectarian era), Nectarian, and Lower Imbrian eras.

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