Geological Timeline

Era/Period/Epoch/Division Time
(Millions of Years Ago)
Hadean Time

Hadean time is not a geological period.  No rocks on the Earth are this old - except for meteorites. During Hadean time, the Solar System was forming, probably within a large cloud of gas and dust around the sun, called an accretion disc.

Archaeozoic Era

700 Million year span of heavy asteroid and comet bombardment; Earth's Crust Forms


Pre-Cambrain Era

Pre-Cambrain Period

Archaen Epoch

Single-celled organisms

Early Archean


Middle Archean

Late Archean

Proterozoic Epoch

Earliest fossil animals and plants


Neo-Proterozoic Vendian

algae; lichens

Lower Paleozoic Era

Cambrian Period

 First traces of vascular plants; first chordates evolve (gives rise to vertebrates); first animals with hard skeletons (mollusks, coral) develop; extinction of first great expansion of marine life

Ordovician Period

Jawless fish appear; second great expansion and diversity of marine life; first land-based plants

Silurian Period

Widespread distribution of plants on land; first land animals (arthorpods); jawed fishes appear


Upper Paleozoic Era

Devonian Period

Advanced plants evolve; first forests; insects appear; fish groups develop; amphibians appear

Carboniferous Period

Gymnosperms (seed-bearing plants) first appear; club mosses, horsetails, ferns; trees dominate; amphibians evolve; first reptiles develop and colonize land; mammal-like reptiles dominate land

Mississippian (US Only) 355-290
Pennsylvanian (US Only)
Permian Period

Mammal-like reptiles and archosaurs dominate land; trilobites and other types of marine life disappear

Mesozoic Era Triassic Period

Gymnosperms (seed-bearing plants) evolve; reptiles diversify and dominate; dinosaurs appear; mammal-like reptiles disappear; primitive true mammals evolve

Jurassic Period

Cycads, conifers; dinosaurs reach gigantic forms and are dominate animals; first birds evolve

Cretaceous Period

Bird groups continue to evolve; dinosaurs continue to diversify;  modern mammals begin to evolve; angiosperms (flowering plants) evolve; modern plant types begin to appear; mass extinction of dinosaurs and marine reptiles


Cenozoic Era

Tertiary Period

Mammal groups evolve and become the dominate life on Earth; bird groups continue to evolve; first apes appear; upright hominids appear

Paleocene Epoch 65-55
Eocene Epoch 55-38
Oligocene Epoch 38-26
Miocene Epoch 26-6
Pliocene Epoch 6-1.8
Quarternary Period

Modern man; early civilization; growth of civilization and rise of technology

Pleistocene Epoch

Ice-age mammals; mammoths prominent; Neanderthal man; Cro-magnon man; formation of agriculture and permanent communities

(Lower Paleolithic) 0.50-0.25
(Middle Paleolithic) 0.25-0.06
(Upper Paleolithic) 0.06-0.01
Holocene Epoch 0.01-0

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