Geological timeline

  • 541 BCE

    Rodinia Breaks UP

    Rodinia Breaks UP
  • Period: 541 BCE to 252 BCE


    The Paleozoic Era, which ran from about 542 million years ago to 251 million years ago, was a time of great change on Earth. The era began with the breakup of one supercontinent and the formation of another. Plants became widespread. And the first vertebrate animals colonized land.
  • Period: 541 BCE to 485 BCE


    The Cambrian Period marks an important point in the history of life on Earth; it is the time when most of the major groups of animals first appear in the fossil record. This event is sometimes called the "Cambrian Explosion," because of the relatively short time over which this diversity of forms appears.
  • Period: 485 BCE to 444 BCE


    During this period, the area north of the tropics was almost entirely ocean, and most of the world's land was collected into the southern supercontinent Gondwana. Throughout the Ordovician, Gondwana shifted towards the South Pole and much of it was submerged underwater.
  • 444 BCE

    Coledonian Orogeny

    Coledonian Orogeny
  • Period: 444 BCE to 419 BCE


    Was a time when the Earth underwent considerable changes that had important repercussions for the environment and life within it. One result of these changes was the melting of large glacial formations. This contributed to a substantial rise in the levels of the major seas. The Silurian witnessed a relative stabilization of the Earth's general climate, ending the previous pattern of erratic climatic fluctuations.
  • Period: 419 BCE to 359 BCE


    The Devonian Period is sometimes called the “Age of Fishes” because of the diverse, abundant, and, in some cases, bizarre types of these creatures that swam Devonian seas. Forests and the coiled shell-bearing marine organisms known as ammo nites first appeared early in the Devonian. Late in the period the first four-legged amphibians appeared, indicating the colonization of land by vertebrates.
  • 359 BCE

    Pangaea Forms

    Pangaea Forms
  • Period: 359 BCE to 299 BCE


    The term "Carboniferous" comes from England, in reference to the rich deposits of coal that occur there. These deposits of coal occur throughout northern Europe, Asia, and mid western and eastern North America. The term "Carboniferous" is used throughout the world to describe this period, although in the United States it has been separated into the Mississippian (early Carboniferous) and the Pennsylvanian (late Carboniferous) Subsystems.
  • 299 BCE

    Hercynian Orogeny

  • Period: 299 BCE to 252 BCE


    The distinction between the Paleozoic and the Mesozoic is made at the end of the Permian in recognition of the largest mass extinction recorded in the history of life on Earth. It affected many groups of organisms in many different environments, but it affected marine communities the most by far, causing the extinction of most of the marine invertebrates of the time.
  • Period: 252 BCE to 66 BCE


    The major divisions of the Mesozoic Era are, from oldest to youngest, the Triassic Period, the Jurassic Period, and the Cretaceous Period. The ancestors of major plant and animal groups that exist today first appeared during the Mesozoic, but this era is best known as the time of the dinosaurs.
  • Period: 252 BCE to 201 BCE


    The start of the Triassic period (and the Mesozoic era) was a desolate time in Earth's history. Something—a bout of violent volcanic eruptions, climate change, or perhaps a fatal run-in with a comet or asteroid—had triggered the extinction of more than 90 percent of Earth's species.
  • 201 BCE

    Pangea Begins to Break Up

    Pangea Begins to Break Up
  • Period: 201 BCE to 145 BCE


    The Jurassic period was characterized by a warm, wet climate that gave rise to lush vegetation and abundant life. Many new dinosaurs emerged—in great numbers. Among them were stegosaurs, brachiosaurs, allosaurs, and many others.
  • Period: 145 BCE to 66 BCE


    By the end of the period, the continents were much closer to modern configuration. Africa and South America had assumed their distinctive shapes; but India had not yet collided with Asia and Australia was still part of Antarctica.
  • 66 BCE

    Alpine orogeny begins

    Alpine orogeny begins
  • Period: 66 BCE to 50


    Cenozoic Era, third of the major eras of Earth’s history, beginning about 66 million years ago and extending to the present. It was the interval of time during which the continents assumed their modern configuration and geographic positions and during which Earth’s flora and fauna evolved toward those of the present.
  • Period: 66 BCE to 2 BCE


    In the geological time scale, the Tertiary period to the first stage of the Cenozoic Era (started 66 million years ago and extends to the present day), also formerly known as the Tertiary Era, stood out. However, both (both Tertiary Era and Tertiary period) are disused terms.
  • 2 BCE

    Glaciation in the Northern Hemisphere

    Glaciation in the Northern Hemisphere
  • Period: 2 BCE to 50


    Sea levels fall and rise with each period of freezing and thawing. Some mammals get massive, grow furry coats, and then disappear. Humans evolve to their modern form, traipse around the globe, and make a mark on just about every Earth system, including the climate.