- Timeline of early prehistory
This page lists events in the early prehistory of the
universeand the Earth, up to approximately 10,000 BC. Note that many of these dates are speculative or very rough estimates. For events from 10,000 BC onwards, see 10th millennium BC. For greater detail see the articles on the various geological periods.
* 13.7 ± 0.2 billion years ago: beginning of the universe (the
* 13.2 billion years ago: existence of the first known star-forming galaxies
* 4.6 billion years ago: the
solar systembegins to form
* 4.5 billion years ago: formation of the Earth (see
Age of the Earth)
* 3.9 to 4.1 billion years ago:
origin of life( cyanobacteria)
* 2.3 billion years ago: first known
Snowball Earthice age
* 1.8 to 2.1 billion years ago: appearance of the earliest
* 750 million years ago: beginning of a possible
Snowball Earthice age
* 600 million years ago: first complex multicelled lifeforms
* 580 million years ago: end of possible
Snowball Earthice age
* 575 million years ago: origin of the oldest
* 540 million years ago: end of the
Precambrianperiod and beginning of the Cambrian. Time of the Cambrian explosionand appearance of the first Vertebrates.
* 500 million years ago:
* 435 million years ago:
* 420 million years ago: first creatures with
* 400 million years ago:
* 340 million years ago:
* 280 million years ago:
* 251.4 million years ago: the
Permian mass extinction; Palaeozoicera ends. Beginning of the Triassicperiod, the Mesozoic eraand of the age of the dinosaurs.
* 195 million years ago:
Jurassicperiod begins; appearance of the earliest mammals
* 135 million years ago:
* 65 million years ago:
Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction eventat the end of the Cretaceousperiod (end of the Mesozoicera); start of the Tertiaryperiod ( Cenozoicera). End of the age of the dinosaurs.
* 60 million years ago: the first
primatesbegin to evolve
* 49 million years ago:
whales return to the water
* 40 million years ago: age of the
Catarrhiniparvorder; first canines evolve
* 36 million years ago: end of
Eocene, start of Oligoceneepoch
* 34 million years ago:
cats begin to evolve
* 26 million years ago: emergence of the first true elephants
* 24 million years ago:
* 20 million years ago: first forms of
* 18-12 million years ago: emergence of the "
* 5-7 million years ago: "Pan/Homo" split
* 5.5 million years ago: appearance of the genus "
* 5 million years ago:
* 4.5 million years ago: appearance of the genus "
* 4 million years ago: start of last
* 2.5 million years ago: emergence of the genus "Homo"
* 1.5 million years ago:
Pleistoceneepoch ( Quaternaryperiod) begins; earliest possible evidence of the controlled use of fireby " Homo erectus"
* 790,000 years ago: earliest demonstrable evidence of the controlled use of
fireby " Homo erectus"
* 700,000 years ago: last reversal of the
earth's magnetic field
* 500,000 years ago: colonisation of Eurasia by "
* 300,000 years ago: "
Homo sapiens" separated from " Homo erectus" ( Middle Paleolithic)
* 250,000 years ago: appearance of "
* 200,000 years ago: appearance of "
* 160,000 years ago: split between "
Homo sapiens idaltu" and " Homo sapiens sapiens"
* 150,000 years ago: time of
* 125,000 years ago: peak of the
* 100,000 years ago: earliest estimate for the domestication of
* 90,000 years ago: time of
* 75,000 years ago: ancestors of the
Indigenous Australiansreached Australia
* 70,000 years ago: possible Toba catastrophic event
* 60,000 years ago: out of Africa migration
* 40,000 years ago:
Cro-Magnoncolonisation of Europe( Upper Paleolithic)
* 29,000 years ago (27,000 BC): extinction of "
* 23,000 BC: first colonisation of North America
* 19,000 BC:
Last Glacial Maximum
* 18,000 BC: the oldest known
tally stick(the Ishango Bone)
* 10,000 BC: land ice leaves
Denmarkand southern Sweden; start of the Holoceneepoch and Neolithic Ageand end of the last Ice Age.
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