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Timeline of natural history

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Title: Timeline of natural history  
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Subject: Millennia, Hadean, Natural history, Age of the Earth, 9th millennium BC
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Timeline of natural history

Visual representation of the history of life on Earth as a spiral

This timeline of natural history summarizes significant cosmological, geological and biological events from the formation of the Universe to the rise of modern humans. Times are listed in millions of years, or megaanni (Ma).

Formation of the Universe

  • 13,798 ± 0,037 Ma ago: estimated age of the universe according to the Big Bang theory.
  • 13,600–13,500 Ma: First stars begin to shine.
  • 13,600 Ma: age of the oldest star in the universe.
  • 13,100 Ma: Galaxies form.
  • 12,700 Ma: age of the quasar CFHQS 1641+3755.
  • 9,000 Ma: Earliest Population I, or Sunlike stars.

The earliest Solar System

In the earliest solar system history, the Sun, the planetesimals and the jovian planets were formed. The inner solar system aggregated more slowly than the outer, so the terrestrial planets were not yet formed, including Earth and Moon.

Hadean Eon

Archean Eon

Eoarchean Era

Paleoarchean Era

Mesoarchean Era

Neoarchean Era

Proterozoic Eon

Paleoproterozoic Era

Siderian Period

Rhyacian Period

Orosirian Period

Statherian Period

Mesoproterozoic Era

Calymmian Period

Ectasian Period

Stenian Period

  • 1,200 Ma: [16] Meiosis and sexual reproduction are present in single-celled eukaryotes, and possibly in the common ancestor of all eukaryotes.[17] Supercontinent Rodinia comes together.
  • 1,100 Ma: First dinoflagellate.

Neoproterozoic Era

Tonian Period

Cryogenian Period

Ediacaran Period

Phanerozoic Eon

Paleozoic Era

Cambrian Period

Ordovician Period

Silurian Period

  • 443.4 ± 1.5 Ma: Beginning of the Silurian and the end of the Ordovician Period.
  • 420 Ma: First creature took a breath of air. First ray-finned fish and land scorpions.
  • 410 Ma: First toothed fish and nautiloids.

Devonian Period

Carboniferous Period

Permian Period

Mesozoic Era

Triassic Period

Jurassic Period

Cretaceous Period

Cenozoic Era

Paleogene Period

Neogene Period

Quaternary Period

Etymology of period names

Period Started Root word Meaning Reason for name
Siderian 2500 Ma Greek sidēros iron ref. the banded iron formations
Rhyacian 2300 Ma Gk. rhyax lava flow much lava flowed
Orosirian 2050 Ma Gk. oroseira mountain range much orogeny in this period's latter half
Statherian 1800 Ma Gk. statheros steady continents became stable cratons
Calymmian 1600 Ma Gk. calymma cover platform covers developed or expanded
Ectasian 1400 Ma Gk. ectasis stretch platform covers expanded
Stenian 1200 Ma Gk. stenos narrow much orogeny, which survives as narrow metamorphic belts
Tonian 1000 Ma Gk. tonos stretch The continental crust stretched as Rodinia broke up
Cryogenian 850 Ma Gk. cryogenicos cold-making In this period all the Earth froze over
Ediacaran 635Ma Ediacara Hills place in Australia where the Ediacaran biota fossils were found
Cambrian 541Ma Latin Cambria Wales ref. to the place in Great Britain where Cambrian rocks are best exposed
Ordovician 485.4 Ma Celtic Ordovices Tribe in north Wales, where the rocks were first identified
Silurian 443.4 Ma Ctc. Silures Tribe in south Wales, where the rocks were first identified
Devonian 419.2Ma Devon County in England in which rocks from this period were first identified
Carboniferous 358.9 Ma Lt. carbo coal Global coal beds were laid in this period
Permian 298.9Ma Perm Krai Region in Russia where rocks from this period were first identified
Triassic 252.17 Ma Lt. trias triad In Germany this period forms three distinct layers
Jurassic 201.3Ma Jura Mountains Mountain range in the Alps in which rocks from this period were first identified
Cretaceous 145Ma Lt. creta chalk More chalk formed in this period than any other
Paleogene 66Ma Gk. palaiogenos "ancient born"
Neogene 23.03Ma Gk. neogenos "new born"
Quaternary 2.58 Ma Lt. quaternarius "fourth" This was initially deemed the "fourth" period after the now-obsolete "primary", "secondary" and "tertiary" periods.


  1. ^ Amelin,Yuri, Alexander N. Krot, Ian D. Hutcheon, & Alexander A. Ulyanov (Sept 2002), "Lead Isotopic Ages of Chondrules and Calcium-Aluminum-Rich Inclusions" (Science, 6 September 2002: Vol. 297. no. 5587, pp. 1678 - 1683)
  2. ^ According to isotopicAges, the Ca-Al-I's (= Ca-Al-rich inclusions) here formed in a proplyd (= protoplanetary disk]).
  3. ^ Courtland, Rachel (July 2, 2008). "Did newborn Earth harbour life?".  
  4. ^ Taylor, G. Jeffrey (2006), "Wandering Gas Giants and Lunar Bombardment: Outward migration of Saturn might have triggered a dramatic increase in the bombardment rate on the Moon 3.9 billion years ago, an idea testable with lunar samples" [1]
  5. ^ Mojzis, S, et al. (1996), Evidence for Life on Earth before 3800 million years ago", (Nature, 384)
  6. ^ Yoko Ohtomo, Takeshi Kakegawa, Akizumi Ishida, Toshiro Nagase, Minik T. Rosing (8 December 2013). "Evidence for biogenic graphite in early Archaean Isua metasedimentary rocks".  
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  10. ^ "Scientists reconstruct ancient impact that dwarfs dinosaur-extinction blast". AGU. 9 April 2014. Retrieved 10 April 2014. 
  11. ^ Brocks et al. (1999), "Archaean molecular fossils and the early rise of eukaryotes", (Science 285)
  12. ^ Canfield, D (1999), "A Breath of Fresh Air" (Nature 400)
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  14. ^ Cowan, G (1976), A natural fission reactor (Scientific American, 235)
  15. ^ Bernstein H, Bernstein C (May 1989). "Bacteriophage T4 genetic homologies with bacteria and eucaryotes". J. Bacteriol. 171 (5): 2265–70.  
  16. ^ Butterfield, NJ. (2000). "Bangiomorpha pubescens n. gen., n. sp.: implications for the evolution of sex, multicellularity and the Mesoproterozoic/Neoproterozoic radiation of eukaryotes". Paleobiology 26 (3): 386–404.  
  17. ^ Bernstein H, Bernstein C, Michod RE (2012). DNA repair as the primary adaptive function of sex in bacteria and eukaryotes. Chapter 1: pp.1-49 in: DNA Repair: New Research, Sakura Kimura and Sora Shimizu editors. Nova Sci. Publ., Hauppauge, N.Y. ISBN 978-1-62100-808-8

See also

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