The History Of Planet Earth Imagined As One Year

Welcome to the approximately 4.6 billion year history of Earth, shrunk down to a year. One “day” equals about 12.6 million years, and a human life is about 0.6 seconds.

The universe appears from the void about two “years” (13.7 billion years) before Earth forms.

January 1st (4.56 billion years ago)
The solar system forms from interstellar matter spread by explosive supernovae.

January 5th (4.5 billion years ago)
The moon forms.

January 21st (4.3 billion years ago)
Little by little the atmosphere cools, rain falls, and the oceans form.

February 14th (4 billion years ago)
Life first appears in the ocean.

May 29th (2.7 billion years ago)
Organisms and cyanobacteria capable of photosynthesis appear, and oxygen levels in the atmosphere rise. Stromatolites, rocks found all over the world containing a cross sectional concentric circle pattern, are vestiges of this early activity.

June 22nd – July 8th (2.4 to 2.2 billion years ago)
Ice Age. “Snowball Earth” freezes over, all the way to the equator.

July 24th (2 billion years ago)
Eukaryotes (organisms whose genetic material is contained inside a membrane) emerge.

August 1st (1.9 billion years ago)
Nena, the oldest supercontinent (a landmass of continents gathered together) forms.

September 10th – October 12th (1.4 – 1 billion years ago)
Multicellular organisms appear.

October 28th – November 13th (800 – 600 million years ago)
Ice Age. “Snowball Earth” once again. The oceans freeze down to one kilometer below the surface, killing 90% of life on Earth.

November 14th (600 million years ago)
Shell-less, soft-bodied “Ediacara biota” appear. Suddenly, much larger organisms form.

November 18th – November 23rd
The first vertebrate fish appear. The number of different species dramatically increases, called the “Cambrian Explosion.” Arthropods flourish.

November 23rd – November 27th
Mollusks (such as shellfish and squid) and echinoderms (such as starfish) flourish. Primitive plant life emerges on land, and the first bugs appear.

November 27th – November 29th
Moss and ferns flourish on land, and coral and sea scorpions flourish in the ocean.

November 29th – December 3rd
The first four legged animals, such as acanthostega, can be seen. The “Age Of Fish” (aka Devonian Period) is marked by the appearance of lobe-finned sarcopterygii such as coelacanth.

December 3rd – December 8th
Vast forests of ferns grow, and the concentration of oxygen in the atmosphere rises to 35%. Organisms undergo a massive growth in body size. Small insects can be seen.

December 8th – December 12th
Ancestors of mammals appear. Insects evolve into many species.

December 12th (about 252 million years ago)
Pangea, the supercontinent that became our current continents, forms.

December 12th – December 16th
Insects flourish. Dinosaurs and mammals appear. Seed producing plants such as conifers flourish.

December 14th (220 million years ago)
Pangea begins to fragment. Afterwards, life on land evolves separately on each continent.

December 16th – December 20th
The Great Age of the Dinosaur. Giant creatures appear. Birds evolve from dinosaurs.

December 20th – December 26th
The age of the dinosaur continues. Flowering plants rapidly diversify.

December 26th (66 million years ago)
A giant meteor crashes into modern day Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. Earth’s temperatures substantially drop. Much of life of Earth, most predominantly the dinosaur, is wiped out.

December 26th – December 30th
Mammal and bird life grows. Plants such as rice multiply, and vast areas of grasslands form.

December 30th – December 31st
Forests shrink and grasslands spread, and the variety of plant eating mammals increases. Earth continues to cool.

December 31st 10:33 AM (7 million years ago)
In Africa, the first bipedal human classified as Australopithecine (aka “ape man”) is born.

December 31st 7:02 PM through present
The Age Of Man (current era).

December 31st 7:23 PM (2.4 million years ago)
Tool and fire wielding “primitive man” appears.

December 31st 11:36 PM (200,000 years ago)
The birth of present world humanity known as “homo sapiens.”

Today over 1.9 million varieties of organisms live on our planet.

★ = “The Big Five” (Particularly large-scale periods of extinction after the Cambrian Period)