Written by Graham | Created: Friday 26th July 2019 @ 1100hrs | Revised: Thursday 1st October 2020 @ 0023hrs
Our times represent only the latest in a long series of layers of human history dating back some 5,000 years, when someone figured out that the signs and symbols of the bureaucrats in places Egypt and Mesopotamia could be put to a more abstract, creative use. Historical records only date back a small part of the span of time which separates us from the earliest members of our species, and the whole panoply of human ancestors since our divergence with the chimpanzees is but a drop in the ocean of life. Advanced life forms, at least those whose affiliations we can trace to some extent, date back to the Ediacaran and Cambrian periods, some 550-500 million years ago or thereabouts, and this is a mere eighth or so of the story of life on this planet. Furthermore, the earth itself and the solar system which houses it is a relative parvenu on the universal scene.
Yet, though we have existed for what is, relatively speaking, this miniscule amount of time, our species has made great (bipedal) strides forward - including a giant leap to the moon and back, flying higher than any other species despite not having wings. We have also, somehow, managed to figure out that our life on earth is the briefest flicker of a candle in the vast darkness of time and space.
This section briefly outlines the journey from Big Bang to First Man in a series of stages: -
A brief timeline of the development of the universe.
A brief timeline of the development of the solar system.
The record of life can be traced back billions of years. This article describes its long formative stages.
With the notable exception of the Ediacaran biota, animal life as we know it really kicked off with the Cambrian explosion, which ushered in the Phanerozoic. This page charts the major developments during this time.
After the non-avian dinosaurs met their end at the hands of an asteroid, mammals (among other forms of life) moved in to fill the gaps left by this best-known Mesozoic group. Among them were the ancestors of us.
An overview of human evolution, featuring all known hominin species during the past 7 million years.
Charting Homo sapiens sapiens' rise to dominance and civilisation.