History of the Earth

  • Period: 145 to

    Jurrasic Period

    Dinosaurs became the dominant animals on land. One of the first birds, Archaeopteryx, appeared. Many paleontologists think that birds are close relatives of dinosaurs.
  • Period: 145 to 165

    Cretaceous Period  

    Dominant animals during this period included: reptiles, birds, turtles, crocodiles, fishes, and marine invertebrates.New forms of plant life included leafy trees, shrubs, and small flowering plants.
    The Cretaceous Period ended with a mass extinction. More than half of all plant and animal groups were wiped out, including all of the dinosaurs.
  • 165

    Cenozoic Era

    Mammals became common during the Cenozoic.
    During the Cenozoic, mammals evolved adaptations that allowed them to live in various environments—on land, in water, and even in the air.
    The Cenozoic often is called the Age of Mammals.The Cenozoic is divided into the Tertiary Period and the Quaternary Period.
  • 245

    Mezoic Era

    Dinosaurs lived during this time. Mammals began to evolve during this era.
    During the Mesozoic Era, dinosaurs became dominant. The Mesozoic is also marked by the appearance of flowering plants.
    The Mesozoic Era is often called the Age of Reptiles.
  • Period: 245 to 360

    Carboniferous and Permian Periods 

    Reptiles evolved from certain amphibians. Winged insects evolved into many forms.Giant ferns and other plants formed vast swampy forests.Remains of ancient plants formed thick deposits of sediment that changed into coal over millions of years.
    The mass extinction at the end of the Paleozoic affected both plants and animals on land and in the seas. As much as 95% of the complex life in the oceans disappeared.
  • Period: 360 to 410

    Devonian Period

    Some plants adapted to drier areas and invaded more habitats. Insects appeared on land. The Devonian is often called the Age of Fishes because many groups of fishes were present in the oceans. Most fishes had jaws, bony skeletons, and scales.
    During the Devonian, vertebrates began to invade the land.Some of these early four-legged vertebrates evolved into the first amphibians.
  • Period: 440 to 505

    Ordovician and Silurian Periods

    Some arthropods became the first land animals. The first vertebrates appeared. The first land plants evolved from aquatic ancestors.
  • 544

    Paleozoic Era

    Many vertebrates and invertebrates lived during this time.Rich fossil evidence shows that early in the Paleozoic Era, there was a diversity of marine life.
  • Period: 544 to Jan 1, 650

    Precambrian Time

    Geologic time begins with Precambrian Time, which covers about 88% of Earth’s history.
  • Jan 1, 650

    Vendian Period

  • Period: to

    Tertiary Period

    The climate was generally warm and mild. Marine mammals such as whales and dolphins evolved. Grasses evolved, providing food for grazing mammals.Some mammals became very large, as did some birds.
  • Period: to

    Quaternary Period

    Earth’s climate cooled, causing a series of ice ages. About 20,000 years ago, Earth’s climate began to warm and sea levels began to rise. In the oceans, algae, coral, mollusks, fishes, and mammals thrived.Insects, birds, and land mammals were common.
  • Period: to 245

    Triassic Period

    Organisms that survived the Permian mass extinction became the main life forms early in the Triassic. These organisms included fishes, insects, reptiles, and cone-bearing plants.