Geologic Timeline

Timeline of Geologic History

("mya" is Million Years Ago; "bya" is Billion Years Ago)

Eon Era Period Epoch Events / Appearance of Plants and Animals
Phanerozoic Eon

(Visible Life)
540 mya - now
Cenozoic Era
(Recent Life)
65 - now mya
Age of Mammals
Quaternary
2.6 mya - now
Age of Man
Holocene
11,000 years ago to today
Human Activity
Pleistocene
1.8 mya to 11,000 years ago
The last Ice Age
Tertiary
65 to 1.8 mya - 1.8 mya
Neogene
23-2.6 mya
Pliocene
5-2.6 mya
Australopithecines
Miocene
23-5 mya
Horses, dogs, modern birds
Paleogene
66 - 23 mya
Oligocene
34-23 mya
Pigs, deer, cats
Eocene
58-34 mya
More mammals, first rodents
Paleocene
66-58 mya
Big mammals
Mesozoic Era

(Middle Life)
248-65 mya
Age of Reptiles
Cretaceous
146-65 mya
Late
98-66 mya
Primitive marsupials, ends with huge K-T extinction of dinosaurs
Early
145-98 mya
Snakes, ants, bees. Dinosaurs are ruling the earth.
Jurassic
201-145 mya
Giant plant eating Sauropods. Flowering plants bloom. Pangea starts to break up about 180 mya, creating the Atlantic ocean.
Triassic
252-201 mya
The rise of the dinosaurs, first mammals, many turtle-like reptiles. Ends with extinction of 35% of all animals families including most marine reptiles.
Paleozoic Era

(Ancient Life)
540-248 mya
Permian
299-252 mya
Age of Amphibians
One supercontinent is formed named Pangaea. Phytoplankton and plants pollute the air with oxygen. Ends with mass extinction - 50% of animal families, 95% of marine species.
Carboniferous
359-299 mya
coal swamps, corals, Amphibians more numerous
Pennsylvanian
323-299 mya
First reptiles.
Mississippian
359-323 mya
First winged insects.
Devonian
419-359 mya
Age of Fishes
First amphibians, sharks, bony fish, grasshoppers, cockroaches, mantids.
Silurian
444-419 mya
First jawed fish. First vascular plants.
Ordovician
485-444 mya
First primitive land plants, corals, primitive fish, fungi, kelp, seaweed.
Cambrian
541-485 mya
Age of Trilobites
Cambrian explosion of life. First vertebrates, Trilobites, starfish, urchins, marine animals with mineralized shells. Supercontinent of Rodinia starts to break apart. Mass extinction of 50% of animal families around 488 mya.
Proterozoic Eon

(Earlier Life)
2.5 bya - 541 mya
Vendian/Ediacaran
600-640 mya
First multi-celled animals. Continents merge into first supercontinent, Rodinia. Mass extinction.
Archeozoic Eon

(Beginning Life)
3.9-2.5 bya
First single celled life, blue-green algae and bacteria live in the sea.
Hadean Eon

(Hellish)
4.6 - 3.9 bya
Earth is forming, very hot, no life.

Extinctions Intensities. The vertical axis is the percentage of species lost to extinctions, the horizontal axis is time. Notice time periods often start after massive extinctions.

Extinction Intensities

For more detail see Stratigraphy.org/timescale.