Timeline of life evolution on earth

by Stephen on January 6, 2013 · 30 comments

in Life


Timeline of life evolution on Planet Earth with approximate dates and events from when Earth first formed to modern human.

I have been compiling this list for sometime now for my own curiosity. I find it very interesting to go back and go through the list from time to time 🙂

Time Event
4.6 billion years: The Sun formed from the gravitational collapse of a region within a large molecular cloud. Most of the matter gathered in the center (Sun), while the rest flattened into an orbiting disk that became the Solar System (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune).

Sun was about 70% as bright as today.

Our solar system is currently orbiting at around 24,000–26,000 light-years from the galactic center of the Milky Way, completing one orbit in about 225–250 million years.

The distance of the Sun from Earth is approximately 149.6-million kilometers. At this average distance, light travels from the Sun to Earth in about 8 minutes and 19 seconds.

4.5 billion years: Earth collided with a planetoid the size of Mars. Fragments orbited Earth and formed the Moon.

At this time, moon was orbiting at about 64,000 km from Earth. Earth did not yet have water.

3.9 billion years: Meteorites bombarded Earth bringing along water and other elements. Earth’s atmosphere became mostly carbon dioxide, water vapor, methane, and ammonia.
3.8 billion years: Surface of Earth changed from molten to solid rock. Water started condensing in liquid form. Earth day was 15 hours long.
3.6 billion years: First simple cells, oxygen producing bacteria.
3.4 billion years: Stromatolites demonstrated photosynthesis; a process used by plants and other organisms to convert light energy captured from the sun into chemical energy.
2.2 billion years: Organisms with mitochondria capable of aerobic respiration appeared.
2.0 billion years: Meteor impact, 300 km crater in South Africa.
1.8 billion years: Meteor impact, 250 km crater in Ontario, Canada.
1.6 billion years: Complex single-cell life appeared.
1.5 billion years: Organisms with complex cells containing nucleus appeared.
1.2 billion years: Sexual reproduction appeared, increasing the rate of evolution.
1.0 billion years: Multicellular life appeared.
900 million years: Earth day was now 18 hours long. Moon was about 350,000 km from Earth.
650 million years: Snowball Earth, the entire Earth was covered in ice for many million years.

Mass extinction of 70% of dominant sea plants.

590 million years: Meteor impact, 90 km crater in Acraman, South Australia.
580 million years: Simple, soft-bodied organisms developed i.e. Jellyfish.

The accumulation of atmospheric oxygen allowed the formation of the ozone layer. This blocked ultraviolet radiation, permitting the colonisation of the land.

The ozone layer is found at approximately 20 to 30 kilometres (12 to 19 miles) above Earth, it absorbs 97–99% of the Sun’s medium-frequency ultraviolet light which potentially damages exposed life forms.

570 million years: Arthropods appeared, ancestors of insects.
560 million years: Earliest fungi.
530 million years: Fish appeared. Major diversification of living things in the oceans.
443 million years: Mass extinction, 49% of life disappeared.
434 million years: The first primitive plants moved onto land, having evolved from green algae living along the edges of lakes. They are accompanied by fungi, which may have aided the colonization of land through symbiosis.
410 million years: Fish developed teeth and jaws.

Spiders, Centipedes appeared.

374 million years: Mass extinction, 70% of marine species disappeared.
370 million years: First amphibians, ancestors of frogs, toads, etc…
360 million years: Crabs appeared.
363 million years: Insects roamed the land and would soon take to the skies; sharks swam the oceans as top predators, and vegetation covered the land, with seed-bearing plants and forests soon to flourish.
340 million years: Diversification of amphibians.
280 million years: Beetles appeared.
320 million years Reptiles appeared.
251 million years: Mass extinction event, up to 95% of ocean species and 70% land species lost.
225 million years: First small dinosaurs appeared.
220 million years: Forests dominated the land.
201 million years: Mass extinction, 20% of all marine species killed; caused by oceanic anoxic event.
200 million years Mammals appeared.
150 million years: Birds appeared.
130 million years Flowering plants evolved with structures that attract insects and other animals to spread pollen. This innovation causes a major burst of animal evolution through co-evolution. First freshwater pelomedusid turtles.
110 million years: Crocodiles appeared.
100 million years The first bees evolved.
90 million years: Snakes appeared.
80 million years: Ants appeared.
68 million years: Tyrannosaurus rex, the largest terrestrial predator of North America thrived.
65 million years: Meteor impact, 170 km crater Chicxulub, Yucatan, Mexico.

Mass extinction of 80-90% of marine species and 85% of land species.

Dinosaurs became extinct.
Mammals became dominant species. Rapid diversification in ants.

55 million years: Whale appeared.
52 million years: Bats appeared.
40 million years: Modern-type butterflies appeared.
30 million years: Pigs and Cats appeared.
25 million years: Deer appeared.
20 million years: Giraffes, Hyenas, Bears appeared.Increase in bird diversity.
15 million years: Kangaroo appeared.
14 million years: The first great apes appeared.
10 million years: Grasslands and savannas established.
Diversity in insects, especially ants and termites.
Horses increased in body size and developed high-crowned teeth.
Major diversification in grassland mammals and snakes.
5 million years: First tree sloths and hippopotami, diversification of grazing herbivores like zebras and elephants, large carnivorous mammals like lions and dogs, burrowing rodents, kangaroos, birds, and small carnivores, vultures increase in size, decrease in the number of perissodactyl mammals.
4.4 million years: Appearance of Ardipithecus, an early Hominin Genus.
4 million years: North and South America joined at the Isthmus of Panama. Animals and plants cross the new land bridge.

Ocean currents changed in the newly isolated Atlantic Ocean. First modern elephants, giraffes, zebras, lions, rhinos and gazelles appear in the fossil record.

3.9 million years: Appearance of Australopithecus, Genus of Hominids.
3.7 million years: Australopithecus Hominids inhabited Eastern and Northern Africa.
2.7 million years: Evolution of Paranthropus.
2.4 million years: Homo Habilis appeared.
2.1 million years: Yellowstone supervolcanic eruption.
2 million years: Tool-making Humanoids emerged.

Beginning of the Stone Age, lasted several million years.

1.7 million years: Homo Erectus first moved out of Africa.
1.3 million years: Yellowstone supervolcanic eruption.
1.2 million years: Evolution of Homo antecessor. The last members of Paranthropus died out.
700,000 years: Human and Neanderthal lineages started to diverge genetically.
640,000 years: Yellowstone supervolcanic eruption.
600,000 years: Evolution of Homo Heidelbergensis.
530,000 years: Development of speech in Homo Heidelbergensis.
400,000 years: Hominids hunted with wooden spears and used stone cutting tools.
370,000 years: Human ancestors and Neanderthals were fully separate populations.
350,000 years: Evolution of Neanderthals.
300,000 years: Hominids used controlled fires.

Neanderthal man spread through Europe

200,000 years: Anatomically modern humans appeared in Africa.
105,000 years: Stone age humans foraged for grass seeds such as sorghum.
80,000 years: Non-African humans interbreed with Neanderthals.
60,000 years: Oldest male ancestor of modern humans.
40,000 years: Cro-Magnon man appeared in Europe.
30,000 years: Neanderthals disappeared from fossil record.

First domestic dogs.

15,000 years: Bering land bridge between Alaska and Siberia allowed human migration to America.
12,000 years: Fired pottery invented.
9,000 years: Metal smelting started.
5,500 years: Invention of the wheel.
5,300 years: The Bronze Age.
5,000 years: Development of writing.
4,500 years: Pyramids of Giza.
3,300 years: The Iron Age.
2,230 years: Archimedes advanced mathematics.
250 years: Start of the Industrial Revolution.
50 years: Space travel.
Year 1957: Satellites orbited Earth.
Year 1969 Human walked on the surface of the Moon.

**Of all known forms of life ever to inhabit Earth, through many extinction events, only about 10 percent life forms still exist today.


Geological Time Scales:


Note: click on the thumbnails above to view the images. While viewing an image, you can also scroll down => find the “view full size” link to view the full-size of that image.

References and More Readings:


Last revision: Jan 17, 2013

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{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mmalolo January 6, 2013 at 12:44 pm

Very interesting, thanks a lot.

2 LIBU G ALEX January 6, 2013 at 1:17 pm

Good and informative…

3 Benn January 7, 2013 at 2:28 am

Uh…. very un-biblical. Not something I agree with as a Christian. Jehovah God created all things and they didn’t come up by accident!!!

4 Leps January 8, 2013 at 2:57 am

My friend, It is amazing how much time you take to get all these facts.

I wonder if you could read the Bible [Word of God], commencing from Genesis, to compare your findings.

You will be surprised that it will just you a few minutes to see that your theories are wrong and believe that all nature are are Created and not evolved.

Please do read the Bible quoting a few verses;

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Genesis 1:21 So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

Genesis 1:27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

Genesis 2:4 This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, when the LORD God made the earth and the heavens.

Genesis 5:1 This is the written account of Adam’s family line. When God created mankind, he made them in the likeness of God.

Please my friend, you and I and mankind are created by God and not from collission of substances.

God loves you my friend and all mankind as we were His creation.

I urge all my friend in this blog site, all the moral stories is the character of God in us and not from evolution or collission of matter.

God Loves You

5 Anupa January 9, 2013 at 8:11 am

We have to believe those things which are with evidences. If we were the images of God then why is there violence in this world. Is this what God wants?

6 Stephen January 9, 2013 at 11:36 am

Hi Friends! Very interesting inputs, please keep this educative and constructive discussion going.

For me, it has been my belief that God created this whole Universe. He created Planet Earth and planted life; I am sure He also planted life elsewhere in the Universe too.

Through time and evolution, with God’s guidance, Human came.

All species have to kill to survive and so “violence” is probably just part of “life” ?!?

7 ASHISH KUMAR January 14, 2013 at 3:43 pm

God hasn’t created this world. It evolved.

8 YellowFire January 16, 2013 at 4:36 pm

These could be factual & supported with Scrientific evidences, but I still believe in a Greater Force which is the source of everything– (we call him God, Allah, Jehovah, etc…) …

It says here: “The Sun formed from the gravitational collapse of a region within a large molecular cloud.”– Someone or something must still have initiated that “gravitational collapse”..an Energy or Source that initiated the creation of everything else… Even a great scientist such as Einstein believed in God. 🙂

9 Yatendra January 22, 2013 at 8:19 am

It may be true but I think all years you mentioned may not be true. Think about “1 billion year”, we can’t live 100 years properly.

It will be like so much time and in recent “5000 years” we created the “new world” or we can say “we changed the world”. So, think why science take so much time to developed the nature.

10 Dr. Earl belcher January 24, 2013 at 11:59 pm

This concept of evolution is very wrong. It has been shown that the uranium dating system used to establish these dates is false. Uranium clock is not set to zero at its appearance on earth. It is actually a mixture of various ages. Life on earth is only 20,000 years or less.

11 Rajesh February 2, 2013 at 6:43 am

By reading this entire article.. We can understand one thing.. Whether God has created ??? or Its evolved ???

Truly, NO body knows about the truth. Its their own believe.

But one common thing that we need to understand is


12 Mae February 14, 2013 at 10:51 pm

I don’t believe that it takes million of years. Just read the bible..you will know the truth. Do not be unwise (wicked).

13 Paul Bii March 6, 2013 at 12:41 pm

Can’t be true, the truth is, God created everything.

14 Samradnyee June 10, 2013 at 10:27 am

My sweet frnz (specially Ashish Kumar) ! If u have read Holy Book Of Hindu religion then u ought to know that the almighty has created the world ”THE ALMIGHTY LORD KRISHNA”. This world did not came into existence by evolution. If u carefully observe this world then u will notice that everything goes on correctly without any disturbance & we live peacefully in this world. This cannot happen by evolution. Our Master, Higher Power is always looking at us & guiding us to live our life peacefully.God have created u & u say that he doesn’t exist.U didn’t come on this earth by evolution.& my gud frend Paul Bii u r absolutely correct.

15 Samradnyee June 10, 2013 at 10:35 am

Actually Holy Book of Hindu religion is Bhagwad Gita. Must Read!!!

16 Domanic June 11, 2013 at 12:26 pm

There is only one God-the Christian God! no Krishna, Allah or whatsoever.

17 San June 13, 2013 at 9:10 am

From our recent observations, it is very obvious to see some creatures have become extinct and few are cross multiplying and some others are even appearing new. That is definite prove for the evolution theory. Some brain-washed people try to continue to deny those findings. Any intelligent person will never accept a story written at a time when the literacy level was very, very low. No one will believe if one says that the god came one day and created the heaven, the next day this one, 3rd day another one and so on, and finally the god got tired and decided to have a rest on the 7th day! Millions and millions of years ago, there were no Mr. & Mrs. Man, Mr. & Mrs. Lion, Mr. & Mrs. Snake, Mr. & Mrs. Insect, Mr. & Mrs. Fish and Mr. & Mrs.Tree! It was an entirely a different space with nothing on it.

18 Ed June 22, 2013 at 11:31 am

Your summary is excellent.
I’m an electrical engineer with a lifetime interest in approximating our unique human normal-paranormal nature. I personally have zero doubt that we humans are a combination of mechanistic and spiritual elements, and I try to be respectful to both agnostic and mainstream religious perspectives, even though I consider the extremes of atheism and traditional religion to be invalid.
My position is essentially simple, anything positive that can be rationalized about the spiritual correlated with the paranormal can be gained through speculation as to what’s logical and/or allowable based on our best science. I’ve come to the conclusion that the only way you can logically arrive at an approximation of reality is by comparing speculation as to what’s allowable based on our best science with what’s reasonable and correlated with spiritual sources. For example, string theory suggests that something like 10-dimensions exist. Well the archaic Judea-Christian religions already have something like a 4,500 hundred year old investment in, and familiarity with at least the two dimensions: heaven and Earth. Oh I know we’d need to define dimensions for nitpickers.
But why not focus on this normal-paranormal dialog rather than rejecting the possibility that the bogyman-paranormal exists as atheists do. Because it’s impossible to deny that the paranormal exists, even in the form of a Christian God for one simple reason: It will always be impossible to perform two experiments that are in perfect agreement, so atheism is a stupid concept.

19 Paul July 24, 2013 at 11:05 pm

Evolution and Religion same damn thing, it offends me that anyone would claim to know what happened ten thousands years ago much less a million even billion. I dont believe in evolution or religion or any human claiming to know god or sacred knowledge of the past.

20 Sasi August 15, 2013 at 1:04 am

Great effort in compiling. Very interesting. Thanks a lot.

21 Camilia August 26, 2013 at 12:22 pm

The history of earth and the story of man is very complicated and big, we should try to understand it.

22 JP October 15, 2014 at 6:49 pm

WOW!! Many commentaries from scientists, religious aficionados, mis spellers, non native English speakers and et al.

My two cents: Thank you for posting this, it helps me teach my lessons in geology. For the Jehovah fans. You are welcome to your opinion, and the rest of the world is welcome to theirs. If I chose to believe in fairytales as facts, that is my choice. Don’t confuse the power of your faith with the object in which you have chosen to deposit it.

23 Cseperke Papp May 23, 2015 at 4:30 am

Loved reading this summary through, thank you! Only people who lack imagination cannot see how grandiose this is. Two billion years of single cells organisms! Two billion years. People, can you imagine that kind of time span at all? Anyone with “strong” religious faith: just take your time and study and learn about these 2 BILLION years. How those single cells organisms work, how they evolved. Have an open mind, and try to take it in. It is amazing. Just look at how the human eye developed. And then all the rest: the diversity, the colors, the beauty! Thriving, beautiful, rich and then bang…. most of them extinct. Repeatedly. Only to give way to another surge of fantastic lifeforms. And their survival gave way to more life and more diversity.

The imagination of men populated our minds with Gods, which in itself is something fantastic and something beautiful. But reality is also complicated, also wonderful, and way, way interesting. Yes, churches are beautiful, rituals are heart warming, traditions are respectable, culture is amazing. And all that is just in the last few thousand years!

You just need to open your eyes and look at the creatures of earth with this history and learn their stories. Study a branch of a tree. a leaf up close. The life around it. Think about the BILLION years it took to be where it is today.

You can choose to believe in whatever you wish to, but do read about how beliefs are formed. Do your research. Read about the brain. Read about how your thoughts and convictions are formed. It is a wonderful and interesting study!

Evolution is something clear, logical and wonderful, and something no doubt have led to our existence today. Look at the evidence.

The end of this timeline, people… That contrast! Those few thousand years relative to the vast amount of time. And I love how the invention of the wheel and landing on the moon is there. It freaking makes me cry. That is how awesome this timeline is, and that is how awesome the world is. When you can look at it that way. in that perspective. Peace.

24 Krisna December 18, 2015 at 2:43 am

I think God do not have a concept of time. Maybe the concept of God creating everything in existence in 7 days is allegoric in nature. Maybe the days meant the sequence, since God transcends time, what is 1 Billion years for him but a second? The point is that no one has really figured it out yet. Even some scientist believes of a Great Force that is responsible for all the movement and expansion.
Peace to all!

25 Scott Murray December 30, 2015 at 7:44 am

Read the book “Genesis and the Big Bang” by Gerald L. Schroeder. It gives a very logical explanation as to how The Bible and the Big Bang can coincide. And, as Einstein said, which is in The Bible, “Question everything.”

26 M.D.K. January 17, 2016 at 2:37 pm

I’m sure Stephen(biblical name by the way) wasn’t out to discredit anyone’s faith or beliefs about how life and our beautiful planet came to be. I would encourage those with long held and deeply religious based beliefs to remember that the freedom to believe or not to believe is an integral part of being American. One should not allow their mind to be dictated by the opinions (whether based upon religious texts e.g. bible, koran, ect…)but rather by their OWN CONVICTIONS. And also many questions will still remain probably unanswered due to our finite abilities to ascertain absolute truths regarding the beginnings of life, however there is no sin in inquiring an open mind.

27 Ryan March 3, 2016 at 4:33 pm

To be honest, it’s proven in scientific research that there are ‘ possibilities ‘ that Earth evolved, whereas there is NO proof or even possible proof that God is anything. It’s simply a belief. It’s the same as I believe there is more beyond this planet than we know. The thought of God was probably made by early humans because they knew very little about the planet and life and it gave them an answer whether it’s wrong or right. It’s simple belief. That’s what religion is. I’m not religious in the slightest way but that’s my choice and we all have one. No disrespect to anyone, just stating my opinion.

28 Adam Donaldson July 28, 2016 at 12:57 pm

Utterly amazed by the number of people who skimmed this and felt threatened enough to start talking about god. Stone age people believed in and invented gods. Quit acting like stone age people. It is 2016. Science actually works, you know.

29 StanFL September 23, 2016 at 2:01 pm

Thank you for your arduous efforts in compiling this. It is good to see chronologies of different streams of events overlapped – this helps understand the framework of lesser ones, such as life under geology. I think you should continue to update it as a public service, as there is no comparison. You might put ranges or error bars around some of the less certain numbers, which would help people understand what is well known, like extinctions, and what is pretty much a guess, like photosynthesis. Once again, brilliant work!

30 Charles Callaway October 30, 2016 at 6:04 am

Number 27 Ryan makes a lot of sense. Carbon dating has established proven timelines into the mullions of years for many relics. I have found so many contradictions in religion that I cannot accept these writings from a time when it was still believed that the world was flat. Those people knew nothing of the galaxies and even the distances would have been beyond their conception. No, I enjoy absorbing the knowledge of documents such as this, and in the mean time I try to live in a way which may be described as Christian in that I try to treat others as I would like to be treated, but without the belief in the written documents which go back such a short time.

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