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GEOLOGIC TIME SCALE

- It is a calendar that can be used to find the ages of rocks, fossils and organisms.
- It has been divided into four eons: Hadean, Archean, Proterozoic and Phanerozoic.
- Eons are the largest intervals of geologic time and are hundreds of millions of years in duration.
- Eons are divided into smaller intervals known as eras. Phanerozoic is divided into three eras: Paleozoic,
Mesozoic and Cenozoic.
- Eras are subdivided into periods. Paleozoic is subdivided into the Permian, Pennsylvanian, Mississippian,
Devonian, Silurian, Ordovician, and Cambrian period.
- Periods in Cenozoic are frequently subdivided into epochs. Subdivision of periods into epochs can only be
done for the most recent portion of the geologic time scale.

PRECAMBRIAN TIME  The oldest fossils are from this time which is about more than 3.5 billion years
old.
 Fossils include microscopic organisms such as bacteria and blue-green algae that
lived in the sea.
 Prokaryotic organisms only exist this time. It means “before nuclei”. These life-
forms consist of single cells without true nucleus. These cells reproduced by cell
division.
 Because these kinds of organisms did not use oxygen, it was assumed that the
early earth atmosphere lacked oxygen.
 Eventually, more complicated cells with true nuclei appeared – eukaryotes were
found in rocks about 2 billion years old. Sexual reproduction become possible.
 Some eukaryotes along with some prokaryotes also developed the ability to make
their own food in a process called photosynthesis. During this food-making
process oxygen is released.
 With the development of photosynthesis, oxygen began to build up in the
atmosphere, setting the stage for life on land.
 700 million years ago – animals with more than one cell had evolved. They were
soft-bodied organisms, none had a shell or skeleton of any kind. All of these forms
were sea creatures.

PALEOZOIC ERA  540 million years old


Cambrian period
 During the Cambrian period, many new species evolved. In fact, different species
developed so rapidly that this episode of evolution was called as Cambrian
explosion.
 Members of all the main groups of marine invertebrates evolved. Paleontologists
are still debating what might have caused the Cambrian explosion. Some
paleontologists suggest that it was because oxygen became much more plentiful.
This would have allowed more complex life-forms with greater oxygen needs to
survive.
 Many of the species that evolved during the Cambrian explosion had shells or
other hard parts, so they had good chances of becoming fossilized.
 Trilobites – one of the most important groups
to evolve.
 Trilobites are relatives of modern-day crabs and
insects.

 Brachiopods – animals that lived in a shell with 2 halves. Look like clams.

 During the most of the Paleozoic Period, shallow seas covered much of what is now
dry land.
 These seas left deposits of sediments that eventually hardened into sandstones, shale
and limestone rocks. These ancient rocks are now exposed at the Earth’s surface in
many places around the world.
 Most of the fossils known were invertebrate animals. Examples, corals, crinoids,
eurypterids and nautiloids.
 Crinoids – form of invertebrate that lived attached to the bottom of the sea. Also
named as “sea lilies” because of their resemblance to plants. They are very common
in Mississippian period. Mostly Mississippian aged limestone rocks are made up
mostly of crinoid stems.

 Eurypterids – known as sea scorpions, relatives of horseshoe crabs. Some were up to


10 ft (3m) long.

 Nautiloid -
relative of squids and octopuses. Had a body that extend from a shell with many
chambers filled with liquid and gas so that nautiloid can move up and down in water.
 Early fish were simple forms without jaws – Agnatha.
 Fish with jaws developed later.

Devonian period (Age of fish)


- monsters appeared measuring 40 ft. (12m).
- some fish had lungs for breathing and muscular fins
strengthened by bones.
- First amphibians or land-dwelling vertebrates evolved from those fish with lungs.

Pennsylvanian period
- First reptiles developed from amphibian ancestors.
- First land plants were simple stems with no true roots or leaves but were capable of
photosynthesis. They reproduced through spores.
- Some land plants had reached the size of the trees.
- Remains of abundant forest plants from this period were found today in the coal fields
of Europe and eastern US.

 End of Paleozoic Era – 95% of all marine species died out at that time. Paleontologists
continue to debate the cause of this extinction. Many changes in the environment
took place. The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increased.

MESOZOIC ERA  248 – 65 million years ago


 Age of Medieval Life
 Invertebrate life was more modern.
 Trilobites and eurypterids were extinct.
 Brachiopods and crinoids were less common.
 Ammonites evolved from nautiloids.
Triassic period
- Refers to the threefold division of rocks in this age of Germany.
- Ferns and cone-bearing trees are common.
- Appearance of first dinosaurs and small mammals.
Jurassic period
- 213-145 million years ago.
- Named after the Jura mountains between France
and Switzerland where rocks of this age were first
studied.
- Giant dinosaurs dominate the land.
- The first bird takes flight.
- Clams, snails and ammonites are common in the
seas.

 Questions arise: How did the dinosaurs as well as many other creatures – swimming
and flying reptiles become extinct?
 During the late Mesozoic era, were found to be rich in the element iridium, which is
common in meteorites but rare in rocks found at the Earth’s surface, some proposed
that an asteroid or meteorite collision was responsible.
 But base on some assumptions, if a giant meteorite collided with the Earth, the
results would have been worse than those of a nuclear war: sudden heating of the
atmosphere, wildfires, darkness (caused by dust thrown into the atmosphere,
blocking the sunlight), tidal waves and acid rain would have occurred.
 Other believe by major volcanic eruptions.

What is the most precious fossil in the world?


- The fossil of Archaeopteryx is the rarest of
fossils. First fossil was discovered in 1861. Lived
more than 150 million years ago. Widely
believed to be an intermediate or link between
reptiles and birds. Its fossil captures the
moment of evolutionary history connecting the
two different groups of organisms.

Cretaceous period
- The first flowering plants evolve.
- Land and sea teem with invertebrates, fish and amphibians.
- About 75% of all species including dinosaurs vanish at end of the period.

“Dinosauria” – termed given by Richard Owen. It means fearfully great lizards.


Discoveries of dinosaur remains tell that there are at least 300 different kinds of
dinosaurs.
“pseudosuchia” – false crocodiles.

What was the deadliest dinosaur that ever walked the earth?
Dinosaurs belonging to the dromaeosaur family are considered to have been the most
terrible of all land creatures. Example, “Deinonychus” – terrible claw. Often hunted in packs,
used its sickle-shaped claws to slash and kill its prey.
CENOZOIC ERA  Age of Recent Life
 65 million years ago – present
 Age of Mammals – new groups of mammals evolved during this time.
 Ice Age – mammoths and saber-toothed cats go to extinction.
 Divided into 3 periods: Paleogene, Neogene and quaternary period.

Paleogene period
- Most of the Earth’s climate was tropical.
- Creation of vast stretches of oceans.
- World’s foremost mountain ranges, including the Alps, Himalayas and the Rocky
Mountains were formed during the Cenozoic era.
- Hyracotherium, rhinoceroses and elephants appear.
- Dogs, cats and pigs become common.
Neogene period
- Gives rise to early primates including early humans.
- Cattle, sheep, goats, antelope and gazelle appear.
Quaternary period
- Cave lions, saber-toothed cats, cave beers, giant deer, woolly rhinoceroses and woolly
mammoths flourish and die out
- Modern humans evolve, learning to hunt, raise animals and use tools.

Prepared by: Rubelaine Baro BSED-IV BIO SCI