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Supereon Eon Era Period Epoch Age Major events Start, million years ago
n/a Phanerozoic Cenozoic Quaternary Holocene Holocene Quaternary Ice Age recedes, and the current interglacial begins; rise of human civilization. Sahara forms from savannah, and agriculture begins. Stone Age cultures give way to Bronze Age (3300 BC) and Iron Age (1200 BC), giving rise to many pre-historic cultures throughout the world. Little Ice Age (stadial) causes brief cooling in Northern Hemisphere from 1400 to 1850. Following the Industrial Revolution, atmospheric CO2 levels rise from around 280 parts per million volume (ppmv) to the current level of 400 0.0117
Pleistocene Late Flourishing and then extinction of many large mammals (Pleistocene megafauna). Evolution of anatomically modern humans. Quaternary Ice Age continues with glaciations and interstadials (and the accompanying fluctuations from 100 to 300 ppmv in atmospheric CO, further intensification of Icehouse Earth conditions, roughly 1.6 Ma. Last glacial maximum (30000 years ago), last glacial period (18000–15000 years ago). Dawn of human stone-age cultures, with increasing technical complexity relative to previous ice age cultures, such as engravings and clay statues (e.g. Venus of Lespugue), particularly in the Mediterranean and Europe. Lake Toba supervolcano erupts 75000 years before present, causing a volcanic winter that pushes humanity to the brink of extinction. Pleistocene ends with Oldest Dryas, Older Dryas/Allerød and Younger Dryas climate events, with Younger Dryas forming the boundary with the Holocene. 0.126
Middle (formerly Ionian) 0.781
Calabrian 1.8
Gelasian 2.58
Neogene Pliocene Piacenzian/Blancan Intensification of present Icehouse conditions, present (Quaternary) ice age begins roughly 2.58 Ma; cool and dry climate. Australopithecines, many of the existing genera of mammals, and recent mollusks appear. Homo habilis appears. 3.6
Zanclean 5.333
Miocene Messinian Moderate Icehouse climate, punctuated by ice ages; Orogeny in Northern Hemisphere. Modern mammal and bird families become recognizable. Horses and mastodons diverse. Grasses become ubiquitous. First apes appear (for reference see the article: "Sahelanthropus tchadensis"). Kaikoura Orogeny forms Southern Alps in New Zealand, continues today. Orogeny of the Alps in Europe slows, but continues to this day. Carpathian orogeny forms Carpathian Mountains in Central and Eastern Europe. Hellenic orogeny in Greece and Aegean Sea slows, but continues to this day. Middle Miocene Disruption occurs. Widespread forests slowly draw in massive amounts of CO2, gradually lowering the level of atmospheric CO2 from 650 ppmv down to around 100 ppmv. 7.246
Tortonian 11.63
Serravallian 13.82
Langhian 15.97
Burdigalian 20.44
Aquitanian 23.03
Paleogene Oligocene Chattian Warm but cooling climate, moving towards Icehouse; Rapid evolution and diversification of fauna, especially mammals. Major evolution and dispersal of modern types of flowering plants 28.1
Rupelian 33.9
Eocene Priabonian Moderate, cooling climate. Archaic mammals (e.g. Creodonts, Condylarths, Uintatheres, etc.) flourish and continue to develop during the epoch. Appearance of several "modern" mammal families. Primitive whales diversify. First grasses. Reglaciation of Antarctica and formation of its ice cap; Azolla event triggers ice age, and the Icehouse Earth climate that would follow it to this day, from the settlement and decay of seafloor algae drawing in massive amounts of atmospheric carbon dioxide, lowering it from 3800 ppmv down to 650 ppmv. End of Laramide and Sevier Orogenies of the Rocky Mountains in North America. Orogeny of the Alps in Europe begins. Hellenic Orogeny begins in Greece and Aegean Sea. 37.8
Bartonian 41.2
Lutetian 47.8
Ypresian 56
Paleocene Thanetian Climate tropical. Modern plants appear; Mammals diversify into a number of primitive lineages following the extinction of the dinosaurs. First large mammals (up to bear or small hippo size). Alpine orogeny in Europe and Asia begins. Indian Subcontinent collides with Asia 55 Ma, Himalayan Orogeny starts between 52 and 48 Ma. 59.2
Selandian 61.6
Danian 66
Mesozoic Cretaceous Late Maastrichtian Flowering plants proliferate, along with new types of insects. More modern teleost fish begin to appear. Ammonoidea, belemnites, rudist bivalves, echinoids and sponges all common. Many new types of dinosaurs (e.g. Tyrannosaurs, Titanosaurs, duck bills, and horned dinosaurs) evolve on land, as do Eusuchia (modern crocodilians); and mosasaurs and modern sharks appear in the sea. Primitive birds gradually replace pterosaurs. Monotremes, marsupials and placental mammals appear. Break up of Gondwana. Beginning of Laramide and Sevier Orogenies of the Rocky Mountains. atmospheric CO2 close to present-day levels. 72.1 ± 0.2
Campanian 83.6 ± 0.2
Santonian 86.3 ± 0.5
Coniacian 89.8 ± 0.3
Turonian 93.9
Cenomanian 100.5
Early Albian ~113
Aptian ~125
Barremian ~129.4
Hauterivian ~132.9
Valanginian ~139.8
Berriasian ~145

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