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The geological timescale

As animals and plants evolve (change over time), some groups die out - become extinct - as the dinosaurs did 65 million years ago. New groups have also appeared, like the birds, which evolved from dinosaurs.

Palaeontologists use the extinction and appearance of different groups to define geological periods. If you put all the geological periods together you have constructed a geological timescale.

The geological timescale records changes in the fossil record.
Click on the geological periods on the timescale to see which groups of plants and animals were alive in each of them.

Geological timescale Caenozoic Cretaceous Jurassic Triassic Permian Carboniferous Devonian Silurian Ordovician Cambrian

This chart is reproduced here courtesy of the School of Earth Sciences and Geography, Keele University.

The scale helps us understand geological time. Learn more looking at the 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