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The history of life in a single year!

Geological time spans billions of years, and includes the history of all life on this planet. By studying fossils, we have learnt more about the history of the Earth and the organisms that have inhabited it.

The Earth was formed about four and a half billion years ago (that's four and half thousand million years), and complex life, like animals and plants appeared about 550 million years ago.

One easy way of looking at huge length of geological time is by translating it into one year - at this scale an average human lifespan is just one and a quarter seconds.

If we compress the last 4,500,000,000 years into 1 year...
Scroll down and have a look!


January the first The Earth and the rest of the solar system is formed on New Year's Day.


November the eighteeth It wouldn't be until late November that we saw the first animals with hard parts.


December the first The first tetrapods (animals with four legs) appeared on land on the first day of December.


December the twenty-sixth The dinosaurs died out in a mass extinction that occurred on Boxing Day.


December the thirty-first, 11.35pm Human beings appeared at about 11.35pm on the evening of the last day of the year.


December the thirty-first, thirty seconds before midnight Stonehenge was built about thirty seconds before midnight.


December the thirty-first, one second before midnight And our Museum was opened in the last second of the year!


Geological time is vast. Learn more about it by looking at the timescale or map.

Megan the Megalosaurus Discover the history of life in these pages.

The history of life in a single year!
The geological timescale
The interactive map - where do you live?

Finished? Return to the Homepage or find out even more about Fossils