GEOLOGY

Timeline assignment

When dealing with deep time, we are working with profoundly large numbers that our minds are not well

equipped to understand on a more intuitive level. Thus, in order to make sense of it all, scientists resort to

breaking the time up into sections and subsection within which they organize and categorize all of the geological

and evolutionary data and events as they are discovered. Still, it can be difficult to appreciate the temporal

“distances” between one event and the next, and an often helpful tool for doing so is to draw out major events in

the evolution of our planet and biosphere on a drawn out timeline.

For this assignment you will complete a timeline of the Earth, which is to a single, linear scale, covers the time

from the formation of the Earth until today, and is at least 10 feet (~3 meters) long—may be done on a poster

board, with stacked lengths of timeline. The length is meant to start you on the process of thinking about deep

time the way geologists do. You must include the events and first (known) occurrences of organisms listed below.

Additionally, you must add five other events or first organisms which you think are significant in the evolution of

life on Earth. Do not include events prior to the formation of the Earth or events in human history. On a separate

sheet, include a brief statement (fewer than 100 words) for each of these five events or organisms explaining why

you think that it is significant.

For each event or organism, you must include a start date according to current science. Dates should be given to

as to as close to the event as is known in the literature (please do not give me time ranges). You may use the

abbreviations Ga (billion years ago), Ma (million years ago) and ka (thousand years ago).

Each entry must include a date, a label (including the genus (Italicized) for organisms marked with an asterisk),

and a source. Here are two examples of appropriate labels to get you started:

4.5 Ga. Formation of the Moon. (M. Barboni et al. Early formation of the Moon 4.51 billion years ago. Sci. Adv. 3,

e1602365 (2017))

or

70 Ma. Favorite Cretaceous dinosaur. Therizinosaurus. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Therizinosaurus)

You will be graded on the presentation of your scale, the accuracy of your labels, the quality and diversity of your

sources (please do not cite my lectures), and the quality of your five extra events. Wikipedia is fine for some well-

established numbers, “history of the Earth” websites and articles are OK, but science blogs and press releases

are better).

Required Events and First Occurrence of Organisms (not in chronological order)

Birds*

Dinosaurs*

Eukaryotes

Fish*

Formation of the Earth

Formation of the Moon

Flowers*

Humans*

Insects*

KT extinction

Land animals*

Life on Earth

Mammals*

Metazoans

Oxygenation of the atmosphere

PT extinction

Trees*

Whales*

Your favorite Cretaceous dinosaur*

Your favorite Jurassic dinosaur*

*Include genus in label

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