Evolution Timeline

A bit about history… or maybe all of it?

To understand the NOW, we can look in the Past and see where we came from, it may not tell us everything, but it helps. And if there is a tomorrow, most probably most of it (what is) will be made up of the components of the PAST and the few bits we added during the NOW. Hurry, it (the NOW) is exceptionally brief.

Recently, I started writing a new essay on the development of us, and why we (or at least some of us) have developed consciousness.  I tried to find a perspective on how things have evolved, and I went much further than ‘Adam and Eve’, and eventually my research was stopped by the Big Bang.

The Internet is amazing!  Knowing myself to some degree, the Big Bang did not stop me but inspired me to write an essay on what has been before.

Several friends of mine had a look at it and suggested I upload it to my blog.  I could not find a way to make a picture file out of my word document.  When I copied it into Photoshop only half the picture would appear.

Bugger.  As you see, I have managed it now with a program called ‘Bolt’ from NCH software.  I got a free version, and it works not that well, meaning, I had to do some cleaning up in Photoshop.

Evolution Timeline

Allow me to explain the set up a bit.  The first line, the green one is divided into sections of billions of years.  The top end I have marked red.  To the right and next to the green line this small part of red is shown magnified as the red line, which is divided in 100 millions of years.  The top end is blue, which then is expanded in the blue line on the right, which divided into sections of 1 million years. Got the gist?

Timeline 7 narrow all 140911

The dotty sections symboliseIce age marker

 Summary of Ice Ages

1.  named The Huronian at 2.4 – 2.1 billion years, 300 000 000 years long… that’s a long time

2.  850 – 630 million years, only 220 000 000 years long, caused total glaciation of Earth, ice sheets reached equator, due to lack of CO2.  Where had it all gone?  Absorbed by the ground, the earth, the Earth.

3.  a minor ice age, 460 – 430 million years ago, that’s a short one: 30 000 000 years, still, 85 % of all life was extinct during that time, and much of it returned.

4.  named The Karoo, 360 – 260 million years ago, due to immense vegetation thus too much oxygen in the atmosphere, lack of CO2, during this one, 95% of all invertebrates became extinct.

Many other small ice ages followed, not worth mentioning, they were too short.

Last big ice age: called The Pliocene-Quaternary   2.6 –  million years long, which coincided with the beginning of the stone age, we had been around then and survived, without thermal underwear.  And the good thing is, it ended with the Homo Sapience surviving. So, what’s wrong with a bit of ice age?

Since then, cycles of glaciation occur on a 40,000 – 100,000-year timing and last for about 50 to 60 thousands years.  This is considered normal… warming up… cooling down… and so on.

Second last ice age (not a big one): Riss (I think this is the name of the person who discovered it), lasted from 180 – 130 thousand years

Last (not a big one): Würm (same as above), 70 – 10 thousand years

Earth is currently in an interglacial period when it gets a bit warmer.

One is for sure, it has been going up and down since the existence of our Earth.  Why should this change, just because we are around?

Some Thoughts

From the time of being human-like apes, it took us

3.5 million years until we began to use stone tools.  It took us a further

2.5 million years to become proficient with sticks and stones.  This was the Stone-Age, and it is divided into three periods.

0.006 million years ago this last section (Stone Age) ended.

This current age with already a hundred periods is only 6000 years old (some say 8000), and assuming it will last 2.5 million years again, this short time is only about 0.2% of its total expected duration, meaning, it hasn’t really started, yet, whether 6000 or 8000.

Current human beings are only 6000 years further “developed” than the Stone Age beings.  Considering the length of the Stone Age, we have proceeded only about 0.2% further out of it.  This has not really given us any time to evolve significantly above the Stone Age people.


In the last 600 million years life was extinct three times to a significant degree (85%, 82%, 95%) because of planetary circumstances.  The next/current extinction is in process right now.  Since the time when all was plentiful, since the beginning of this period, so far 75% of all species (life) has been extinct.  Scientists have explanations for the cause of the three extinctions, less so, why and how it has started and grown to incredible richness of species.  Why would there be a different reason now?

I had my thoughts on this topic too.  I wrote about it in my paper: Like in a Laboratory.

The Earth has gone through these cycles for at least 600 hundred of millions of years.  In comparison, we have effected, mainly polluted this planet not even for 200 years.  That’s nothing.  I guess we grossly overrate the importance of our existence within all life on this planet.

Let’s assume that these extinction-cycles are of the same length, the one cycle would be 130 million years long.  Our current cycle is already 75% used up.  We have 30 million more years before Earth will extinct most of the rest of its life, including us … if we don’t do it before.

Since the discovery of petroleum, about 160 years ago, we had already several unsuccessful attempts of self-extinction.


For 27 thousand years three different kind of Homo this and that … coexisted in Europe alone.  There were more Homo types dispersed over the planet.


Weather research people talk about a ‘Little Ice Age’, a cold period between 1650 and 1850, which occurred in three intervals: one beginning 1650, another 1770, the last 1850.  And this happened all long before we started pumping CO2 into the atmosphere.


In comparison:  If one pixel on a monitor screen (there are 3 in a millimetre) would represent the existence of Homo Sapiens (140 thousand years), then the length of the green timeline (with the billion of years scale) starting from the Origin of Life onward (about 3.9 billion years ago) would be approximately 9.3 kilometres long.  And what do we think makes us so significant?


Wolfgang Köhler

13 June 2011

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