Jump to:

1900s, 1800s, 1700s, 1600s, 1500s, 1000 4 BC,
1000 BC
5,000 BP (before present),
10,000 BP,
100,000 BP
1,000,000 BP,
10,000,000 BP
Billion years BP

Long-Term Global Warming
Long-term Global Warming (click for larger view) from Europe Between the Oceans, 9000 BC -- AD 1000 by Barry Cunliffe, Yale U Press, New Haven, 2008


world pop:

2100 - 10 bil (another projection)

2050 - stabalized at 9.14 billion, (UN "medium" projection)

2043 - 9 bil (est)

2025 - 8 bil (est)

2011 - 7 bil

2000 - 6 bil +

For first time in history, in 2008, urban dwellers will outnumber rural -- 3.3 billion people -- 5 billion expected by 2030 (UN projections, 2007).

Largest urban centers:
Tokyo - 28 million
Mumbai - 20
Mexico City - 20
Sao Paulo - 18
New Delhi - 17
New York - 17
Calcutta - 16
Shanghai - 15
Karachi - 13
Los Angeles - 13
Cairo - 13
Manila - 12

Paris - 10
London - 8
Chicago - 7

(Foreign Affairs, Jan/Feb 2010, p. 38 and worldatlas.com)

There are 386 cities with a population over one million; by 2015, there will be 550.

But large swath of northern territory — Canada, Europe, former USSR, China, and Australia — now has fertility below 2.0 children per couple (Science, 312:1894, 2006).

Strong evidence accumulating against the presence on Earth of ghosts, flying saucers, Loch Ness Monster, and Bigfoot. (graphic; source)

William Ruddiman proposes that the declines in human population associated with the Black Death, beginning in Italy in 1347 and in China about ten years before, and the New World pandemics, beginning in Mexico in 1519, amounting to 125 million deaths between 1200 and 1750, 25% of the total population in 1500, resulted in the abandonment of much agriculture, the reforestation of much land, a decrease in atmospheric carbon dioxide by 10 ppm, and the consequent formation of the so-called Little Ice Age, 1350 - 1850. (Harper's Magazine, 11/2009)

Planetary scientists have found water on the moon. The amount is tiny, an imperceptible film on soil grains, perhaps several molecules thick, about a quart per ton of soil. Last year's Phoenix mission to Mars' polar region found ice just beneath the lander's struts. Ice has been found on Saturn's moon Titan and it covers Jupiter's moon Europa. Our solar system appears more water-rich than it has before. (Los Angeles Times 9-24-09)

A NASA satellite has revealed that polar ice in Antarctica and Greenland is melting far faster than scientists had previously thought. In Antarctica, three glaciers thinned by nearly 30 feet a year from 2003 to 2007. In Greenland, 111 glaciers are now thinning at an average rate of nearly 3 feet a year. (San Francisco Chronicle, 9-24-09)

NOAA reports 2006 hottest year on record for the United States—55°F, 1.2°C above average for 20th century.

The population of the United States (one birth every 8 seconds) is projected to hit 300 million in October, 2006 (we hit 100 million in 1915 and 200 million in 1967);

The average American home now has more TV sets (2.73) than people (2.55). A set is on an average of 8 hr. 14 min. per day. The average person watches 4 hr. 35 min. per day. (Nielsen Media Research, 2006)

DNA code of Black Cottonwood sequenced, first tree, 45,000 genes, about twice than in human, 2006. (Rice and a mustard, Arabidopsis, have also been sequenced.)

Since the start of the American Revolution in 1775, about a million Americans have died in wars. Since Henry Ford introduced his mass-produced auto in 1913, over 2.5 million Americans have died on the road. (AskMarilyn in Parade, 3/5/06)

Comparisons of gene maps show that human and chimpanzee DNA are 99% identical. For instance, we both have the ABO blood-type polymorphism. The average protein differs by only two amino acids and 29% of our proteins are identical. Comparisons of one human to another show that we are 99.9% identical (Science, 309:1468, 2005);

Humans now consume the equivalent of 13 trillion watts of power, 85% from fossil fuels. The USA is opening natural gas plants at the rate of about one every 3.5 days (China just as fast). Carbon dioxide levels are now at their highest point in 125,000 years, and we aren't actually running out of fossil fuels. There is an estimated 50 years' supply of oil, 200 years' supply of natural gas, and 2000 years' supply of coal available world-wide (Science, 309:548, 2005).

Humans have reached the point where they now change the Earth's surface, its waters, and its atmosphere, at a greater rate than all natural processes combined. For instance, geologist Bruce Wilkinson calculates that natural erosion lowers the land surface an average of 24 meters per million years, but human agriculture and construction averages 15 times that much (Science 307:1558, 2005).

"Although replacing gas-powered U.S. automobiles with hydrogen-powered ones might slow global warming, generating the necessary hydrogen would require building either a million new wind turbines . . . or a thousand additional nuclear-power plants." (Atlantic Monthly, Jan/Feb, 2005, p54) Right now, solar and wind energy contribute about 0.1% each of total US energy consumption.

The average American produces 12,000 lbs of carbon dioxide every year (The New Yorker, May 9, 2005, p54).

Hurricane Katrina floods New Orleans; meteorologists report 80% increase in most powerful hurricanes, typhoons, & cyclones (categories 4 & 5) over last 35 years. These storms draw their energy from warm ocean water. (Science, 309:1807, 2005)

Not only is the universe expanding but it is expanding at a faster and faster rate. Is there an "anti-gravity" force that is causing this phenomenon? (Science, 309:75-102, 2005)

More than 175 alien species have settled in San Francisco Bay.

More than 100 drugs combating obesity are in development;

Ivory-billed Woodpecker, largest woodpecker in North America, once known as the Lord God Bird, thought to be extinct since 1940s, found in Arkansas, 2004.

Mars rover missions showing that this cold, dry planet was once warm, wet, and salty: "a candidate environment for early life." (Science, 306:2001, 2004)

Human genome analyzed, all bases in proper order, less than 1 error in 100,000, est 25,000 genes, see Science, 300:409, 2003; With so few genes (and hundreds of thousands of proteins), it is clear that one gene can direct the manufacture of more than one protein. Alternative splicing of exons is one mechanism at work.

World Trade Center attacked by terrorists, 2001; total killed by terrorists that year, 2,978 (total killed by heart disease, 700,142; by accidents, 101,537; by suicide, 30,622; by homicide (excluding terrorist attacks), 17,330) (Harper's Magazine, pg 79, March, 2004).

Mike Brown (Caltech), Chad Trujillo (Gemini Observatory), and David Rabinowitz (Yale University) discover new, 10th planet, 2003UB313, currently called "Eris," 2003. It has one moon and is 2,400 kilometers in diameter, about 5% bigger than Pluto (2,302 kilometers, discovered in 1930). Both, along with Makemake (~1,200 km) and Haumea (shaped like an elongated egg and about as wide as Pluto in its longest dimention, and with 2 moons) have been demoted to "plutoids" a subcategory of dwarf planet. In the Kuiper belt beyond Neptune, there are an estimated 70,000 objects with diameters greater than 100 kilometers.

Jonathan Abrams and Friendster, the first modern social networking Internet site, 3/2003;

(MySpace, 8/2003; Facebook, 2004; Twitter, 2006)

Jimmy Wales & others launch Wikipedia, 2001.

Wetlands are disappearing at a rate of 23,000 hectares a year (USFWS, USGS).

mule cloned; sheep, cows, pigs, cats, and rodents cloned;

draft of human genome, est 40,000 genes, 2000;

Despite technological advances throughout the world, a few hunter-gatherer peoples remain, such as the Arctic Inuit and other Native American tribes;

Proportion of world population in Europe and former colonies of North America has fallen from 33% in 1913, to 17% in 2003, and is expected to drop to 12% by 2050 (UN "medium" projection, Foreign Affairs, Jan/Feb 2010, p. 33)

The late-April weather in the Netherlands has warmed about 4ºC during the past 20 years, so caterpillars are emerging earlier. Pied flycatchers migrate north from Africa in the spring, cued mostly by daylength, so they are arriving as usual to find their caterpillars gone. No food and the flycatcher population is down 90% (Science News, 169:276, 2006).

About 1/3 of a 38,000-year-old Neandertal fossil genome has been sequenced in Germany. Results indicate that humans and Neandertals diverged about 516,000 years ago (another analysis puts the date at 370,000 YBP).

Species extinction: researchers estimate that 71% of butterflies in the U.K. have lost ground, 28% of native plant species have declined; 30% of the 5700 known species of amphibians worldwide are vulnerable to extinction (Science, 306:2016, 2004);

of 4795 known species of land mammals world-wide, 25% are at risk of extinction (Science, 309:546, 2005);

The total number of great apes in world is fewer than the population of Brighton, England or Abilene, Texas; est. 100,000 gorillas, 100,000 chimpanzees, 10,000 bonobos, and 30,000 orangutans survive in the wild (Science, 309:1457, 2005)

Average global temperature was 57.96ºF in 2005, hottest on record, up from 56.60ºF in 1880.

Celia, the last Pyrenean ibex, a subspecies that went extinct in 2000, cloned from skin scrapings. Clone born July 30, 2003, lived a few minutes and died with a malformed lung. First momentarily successful de-extinction effort.

Dolly euthanized, 2003;

The waters of North Sea warmed 1°C between 1977 & 2001.

World-wide sea-level rising an average of 2 millimeters per year (Science 311:1698, 2006).

A new monkey species (Lophocebus kipunji), the highland mangabey, discovered (Science, 308:1103, 2005), or new genus, Rungwecebus, Africa's first new primate genus in 83 years (Science, 312:1378, 2006);

chimpanzees filmed making and using more than one kind of tool to collect termites for food (American Naturalist, 11/04);

Africa is the continent with the fastest growing population -- increasing food production at the same great rate is difficult;

Despite technological advances throughout the world, a few hunter-gatherer peoples remain, such as the San and other African tribes;

Worldwide, efforts to clone mammals mostly fail. Major steps are insertion of DNA into host egg cell, stimulating cell division, inserting blastula into host mother and have pregnancy "take," and finally have pregnancy go to term and live birth. Here are some species and their overall success rates:
  • mouse-1%
  • cat-0.5%
  • sheep-2%
  • cow-1%
  • human-4% to cell division stage and not attempted beyond that

(Wired, p48, 4/2006)

First dog, Snuppy, cloned in Korea, 2005, possible fraud being investigated, 2006;

Mouse cloned in Japan by combining haploid genome from each of two egg cells (no sperm) (Science, 304:501, 2004)

Charlie Mungulda, native Australian, only known person who still speaks Amurdag, 2007. There are an estimated 7,000 languages spoken around the world — one dies out about every two weeks.

Tool use in a dolphin -- Bottlenose Dolphins off Western Australia are breaking off sponges, wearing them on their noses, and using them to probe the seafloor for fish. The skill seems to have been culturally transmitted within one genetically related family (Science 308:1545, 2005)

Average decrease in Antarctic ice mass is 36 cubic miles per year — for comparison, Los Angeles uses about 1/5 cubic mile of water per year. Arctic ice cap is smallest ever measured. (The New Yorker, 3/20/06, p67).

Of 244 glaciers on Antarctic Peninsula, 87% are shrinking (Science, 308:541, 2005)

Larson B ice shelf, about size of Rhode Island, broke off Antarctica, 2002;

Glaciers are shrinking world-wide.

Glaciers in the European Alps are losing more than 1.5 billion tons of ice each year or 155 cubic kilometers since 1850. This loss of weight has allowed the Alps to rise or gain altitude averaging 0.15 mm per year. Mont Blanc is the tallest peak in the Alps; it is rising about 0.9 mm per year.

Despite technological advances throughout the world, a few hunter-gatherer peoples remain, such as the Australian Aborigines;

top of page


Scientific understanding of the world expanded more during this century than during all of earlier history.

world pop:

1998 - 6 bil

1987 - 5 bil

1974 - 4 bil

1959 - 3 bil

1927 - 2 bil

1900 - 1,650 million

1 in 2 lived in cities (1990)

Google launched, 1998.

Yahoo! and Amazon incorporated, Internet Explorer launched, AltaVista largest search engine, 1995.

World Wide Web Consortium established, 1994.

Kary Mullis and polymerase chain reaction, 1983, Nobel Prize, 1993.

WorldWideWeb, 1992.

John Carmack & id Software produce first first-person-shooter video game, Catacomb 3-D, 1991.

Human Genome Project, 1990.

Goddard Space Flight Center and hundreds of scientists launch the Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) satellite and find the variations in the cosmic microwave background radiation that would have been necessary for stars and galaxies initially to coalesce, 1989. Discovery announced, 1992.
"It's the discovery of the century, if not of all time." --Stephen Hawking
"Ten or twenty billion years ago, something happened -- the Big Bang, the event that began our universe. Why it happened is the greatest mystery we know. That it happened is reasonably clear." --Carl Sagan

Exxon Valdez 40 million liter oil spill in Alaska, 1989;

Apple Macintosh, 1984;

Internet, 1983;

Rich Skrenta develops first "boot sector" computer virus, Elk Cloner, 1982;

first IBM PC, 1981;

Three Mile Island nuclear accident, 1979;

Gary Thuerk sends first spam e-mail over Arpanet promoting new DEC computer system, 1978;

first consumer micro-computer, Apple II and TRS80, 1977;

Viking landers touch down on Mars, 1976; no sign of life. (But later study suggested that the same protocol showed no sign of life in various arid Earth soils either - Science News 170:333, 2006.)

first microcomputer, Altair 8800, Intel 8080, 1975;

Ralph Baer and Magnavox and the first home TV video game console -- Odyssey -- 1972;

first Earth Day, 1970;

Apollo 11, man on the moon, 1969.

Arpanet, forerunner of Internet, 1969;

Arno Penzias & Robert Wilson of Bell Labs detect cosmic microwave background radiation, a remnant of the Big Bang, 1965;

USCU, Union, SC 1965; Harold Sears joins faculty, 1974, retires, 2004.

Carl Sagan and SETI, 1934-1996;

Rachel Carson publishes Silent Spring, 1962;

First mini-computer, Digital PDP-1, 1960;

Hawaii, 50th state, 1959;

Alaska, 49th state, 1959;

Fred Hoyle & W.A. Fowler show that the heavier elements could have formed, as the Universe first took shape, at the high temperatures within supernovae, 1957;

Charles D. Keeling began making atmospheric measurements of carbon dioxide content in 1955 and on Mauna Loa in Hawaii in 1958. Carbon dioxide concentrations were about 315 parts per million at the time.

  • preindustrial - 280ppm
  • 1958 - 315ppm
  • 2005 - 380ppm
  • 2050 est - 500ppm

This increase in carbon dioxide concentration is predicted to result in a 5°C increase in average global temperature. In the entire history of the human species it has never been more than 2 - 3 degrees warmer than it is now. (New Yorker, pg 64, 5/2/05)

As a NOAA scientist said: "It's true that we've had higher carbon dioxide levels before. But then, of course, we also had dinosaurs."

Linus Pauling (1901-1994) and covalent chemical bond; Nobel Prize, 1954;

successful kidney transplant, 1954;

Ray Kroc opens first McDonald's, 1954;

Jonas Salk and polio vaccine, 1953;

Scrabble produced by Selchow & Righter, 1953;

Texas Instruments and transistor radio, 1953;

first Swanson TV dinner, 1953;

Stanley Miller and Harold Urey simulate the atmosphere of early Earth, provide energy in form of electric spark, and form organic molecules from inorganic, a first step in the abiotic origin of life, 1952;

Barbara McClintock and mobile genes, 1951, Nobel Prize, 1983;

first general purpose computer, Whirlwind, 1948;

Ralph Alpher & George Gamow mathematically model the fusion of hydrogen and the formation of helium during the first moments of the Big Bang, 1948. They first explained the current composition of the universe: 99.99% H and He in a ratio of 9:1.

William Shockley, Walter Brattain, and John Bardeen invent transistor, 1947;

Chuck Yeager breaks sound barrier, 1947;

ENIAC, electronic numerical integrator and computer, 1946;

Percy Spencer stands next to a magnetron, and a candy bar in his pocket melts. A year later, he presents his 750-lb microwave oven, 1946;

nuclear technology and atom bomb, 1939-1945;

R. Daly proposes theory that a huge collision with the Earth formed the Moon, 1940s;

Term "teenager" first used, 1941;

NBC first television network to broadcast on a regular basis, 1939;

Edwin Howard Armstrong and first regular FM radio broadcast, station W2XMN, Alpine, NJ, 1939;

John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, 1939;

Wallace Crothers invents nylon, 1934;

Edwin Howard Armstrong and first FM radio transmission, from the top of the Empire State Building to Long Island and then to New Jersey, 1934;

First Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers musical — Flying Down To Rio, from RKO, 1933;

Robert Frost, Collected Poems, 1930;

Kudzu imported from Japan, 1930s;

Clyde Tombaugh discovers Pluto, ninth planet, 1930;

William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury, 1929;

first movie to feature both song and talk — The Jazz Singer, from Warner Bros., 1927;

Philo T. Farnsworth first transmits a television image (a horizontal line), September 7, 1927. (RCA broadcast to 2,000 receivers at the 1939 New York World's Fair, but TV didn't become popular until after WWII.)

Albert Sabin (1906-1993) and the oral polio vaccine;

Robert Goddard and liquid-fuel rocket, 1926;

Earnest Hemmingway, The Sun Also Rises, 1926;

F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, 1925;

Clarence Birdseye and frozen food, 1924;

T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land, 1922;

Philip Smith (1884-1970) and the "master" pituitary gland;

First crossword puzzle, in New York World, 1913;

Mary Phelps Jacob and a practical brassiér (two silk handkerchiefs joined by pink ribbons) — it freed women from the whalebone corset, 1913;

First Ford Model T, 1908;

Reginald Fessenden and the first transatlantic radio transmission, between Massachusetts and Scotland, 1906;

First Nickelodeon opens in Pittsburgh, 1905;

Mary Anderson and windshield wipers, 1905;

Leo Hendrik Baekeland, a Belgian chemist livin in NY, and first synthetic plastic, Bakelite, 1905;

Jack London (1876-1916) is best known for his books The Call of the Wild, 1903, White Fang, and The Sea-Wolf, and a few short stories, such as "To Build a Fire" and "The White Silence;

H. Nelson Jackson made the first transatlantic automobile road trip, from San Francisco to New York City in 63 days, 1903;

Orville and Wilbur Wright, first manned airplane flight, 1903;

Jack London, The Call of the Wild, 1903;

Kellogg brothers invent corn flakes, 1902;

Willis Carrier and air conditioning, 1902;

Reginald Fessenden and the first voice over radio -- between two 50-foot-high wooden masts a mile apart, 1900;

Pre-Columbian America was so dense in bison that, as one explorer said, the land seemed draped with "one black robe." By 1900, fewer than 100 individuals remained.

Dolly the sheep, first mammal cloned from adult cell by Ian Wilmut and Keith Campbell, 1997;

Jeanne Calment dies in France at 122 years of age, longest-living human ever documented, 1997;

Otzi, the Iceman of the Alps, 5,300 year old frozen mummy, found 1991;

Berlin Wall comes down, reuniting East and West Germany, 1989;

Karl von Frisch, Konrad Lorenz, Nikolaas Tinbergen, and ethology, Nobel Prize, 1973;

John Gurdon induces an adult frog cell to develop into a tadpole - first cloning of an adult vertebrate cell;

Melvin Calvin and photosynthesis, Nobel Prize, 1961;

Kingsley Amis, Lucky Jim, 1956;

Hans Krebs and oxidative metabolism, Nobel Prize, 1953;

Francis Crick, James Watson and DNA, 1953, Nobel Prize, 1962;

Each human consists of about ten thousand trillion cells, each cell containing 46 strands of DNA that together would extend to about six feet. If all of an indivudual's DNA were laid end to end, it would extend 20 million kilometers, enough to stretch from Miami to Los Angeles and back 2,270 times. (Bill Bryson)

Rosalind Franklin performs X-ray crystallography on DNA, 1951-1953

Hans Spemann proposes concept of cloning, 1938;

Albert Szent-Gyorgyi discovers vitamin C, 1932;

James Chadwick discovers neutron, 1932;

Edwin Hubble measures radial velocities of galaxies up to 100 million light years away, 1931. Hubble's Law: The farther away, the faster they are receding. However, galaxies are not moving through space but along with space -- space is expanding.

R.A. Fisher reconciles genetics and natural selection, 1930;

Fritz Houtermans and Robert d'Escourt calculate that the pressure and temperature within the Sun were great enough to cause the fusion of hydrogen into helium and so power the energy release that we see, 1929. They felt that they were on the right track to explain why stars shine.

Edwin Hubble argues that universe is expanding, 1929;

Alexander Fleming and penicillin, 1928;

Georges Lemaitre and his primeval atom (now Big Bang) theory, 1927;

Marcel Proust, A la recherche du temps perdu, 1913 - 1923;

Edwin Hubble recognizes Andromeda galaxy, first outside our own, Milky Way, 1923; (Hubble Space Telescope launched, 1990)

James Joyce, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, 1916; Ulysses, 1922;

Spanish Flu responsible for half the deaths of American GIs in WWI, infects half the world population, and kills 50 millions worldwide, 1918;

Einstein's General Theory of Relativity, 1917;

  • Space and time are not absolute but relative to observer. Effects become more pronounced as approach speed of light. Time is a component of space, a fourth dimension. Mass distorts space-time. Gravity is the distorting of space-time.

Alfred Wegener (1880 - 1930) and continental drift or plate tectonics, consisting of seafloor spreading and subduction, 1912; Europe and America are moving apart at about the speed that a fingernail grows, about 2 yards in an average human lifetime.

Ernest Rutherford discovers atomic nucleus, 1911;

Albert Einstein and Special Theory of Relativity, 1905;

  • E = mc2

Albert Einstein calculates the number of water molecules in 22.4 liters. Walter Isaacson, his biographer tells us that that many unpopped popcorn kernals, spread across the United States, would cover the country nine miles deep.

Ernest Rutherford and half-life and radioactive dating, 1904;

J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan, 1904;

Max Planck and quantum science, 1900;

The first person known to be infected with HIV, human immuno-deficiency virus (the AIDS virus), was a man who lived in the Congo, 1959. This virus seems to have originated in chimpanzees from Cameroon (Pan troglodytes troglodytes), who originally acquired their version, SIV (simian immuno-deficiency virus), from similar viruses infecting monkeys in west-central Africa. Perhaps someone in Cameroon was bitten or was cut while butchering one of these chimps and then passed the virus on to other humans. Ironically, SIV doesn't much bother the chimps, whereas by the 1980s, HIV became a deadly human pandemic.

Mary and Louis Leakey unearth first of many human fossils in Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania, 1959;

Captain Harry Goosen discovers living coelacanth, Latimeria, 1938. These ancient lobe-finned fish (an ancestor of all tetrapods) had been thought to have gone extinct before the dinosaurs.

Ramond Dart finds remains of Taung child, Australopithicus africanus, in South Africa, 1924;

USSR dissolved, Gorbachev resigned, 1991;

Chernobyl nuclear accident, 1986;

Sputnik, first artificial satellite launched, 1957.

Alexander Friedmann and the theory of a dynamic universe capable of expansion and contraction, 1922;

Alexander Oparin and abiotic origin of life, 1922; The Origin of Life published in 1924.

Russian revolution and establishment of USSR, 1917;

Western processed foods lead to widespread obesity and life expectancy of 55 on Nauru

Ozone Hole discovered over Antarctica, 1985;

top of page


world pop:

1804 - 1 billion

1 in 50 lived in cities (1800)

George Washington Carver, agricultural research including crop rotation, 1896;

Sears Roebuck & CO. founded 1893;

Union’s Central School (public), SC,1891;

Jesse Reno and the excalator, 1891;

Emily Dickinson (1830 - 1886), Poems, 1890;

The first jukebox played only one song, San Francisco, 1890;

John Pemberton creates Coca Cola using a syrup and coca leaves, 1886;

Clifford Female Seminary, Union, SC, first college, 1884.

Panama Canal begun, 1880;

Thomas Edison founds journal Science, 1880;

Thomas Edison and electric light bulb, 1879;

Thomas Edison and the first phonograph, 1877;

Mark Twain (Samuel Clemmons) (1835 - 1910), Tom Sawyer, 1876;

Melville Bissell and carpet sweeper, 1876;

Joseph Glidden and barbed wire, 1874;

Henry M. Rose and "barbed wood," a ten-foot strip of wood with wire points designed to be attached to a wire fence, 1873;

Levi Strauss, blue jeans, 1873;

Margarine created from beef suet and milk, 1869;

Christopher Sholes and qwerty typewriter, 1868;

Civil War, 1861–1865;

SC secedes from Union, 1860;

Edwin Drake (1819-1880) and first oil well, 1859;

Henry David Thoreau (1817 - 1862), Walden, 1854;

Potato chips first cooked by George Crum in NY, 1853;

Elisha Otis and safety lift (elevator), 1852;

NY Times, 1851;

Bartlett, Dictionary of Americanisms, 1848;

Calif. gold rush, 1848;

Mormons found Salt Lake City, 1847;

William Morton (1819-1868) and ether anesthesia, 1846;

Edgar Allan Poe (1809 - 1849, Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque, 1840, The Raven, 1845;

Baseball invented, 1845;

John James Audubon, Birds of America, 1830 - 1838;

Alamo falls to Mexico, 1836;

Richard Hoe invents rotary printing press that could turn out millions of pages per day, 1833;

Cyrus McCormick and mechanical reaper, which cuts, threshes, and bundles grain, 1831;

Webster’s dictionary, with about 70,000 entries, 1828;

James Fenimore Cooper (1789 - 1851), Pioneers, first of Leatherstocking Tales, 1823;

War with England, 1812 - 1814, America's first declared war;

Webster's first dictionary, with about 28,000 entries, 1806;

first home icebox patented, 1803;

Lewis & Clark head west, 1803;

Pres. Jefferson, Louisiana Purchase, buys from the French for three cents an acre – $15 million – 1803;

USC founded as South Carolina College, 1801;

Thomas Jefferson, gentleman scientist (and third president, 1800);

Santiago Ramón y Cajal (1852 - 1934), Spanish neuroanatomist, proposes that memories involve making neural connections, 1899;

Felix Hoffman of Bayer discovers Aspirin, 1899;

Johan Vaaler and paperclip in Norway, 1899;

J.J. Thomson discovers electron, 1897;

Svante Arrhenius, Swedish chemist quantifies global warming due to carbon dioxide emissions. ["We are evaporating our coal mines into the air."], 1896;

Hanri Becquerel and radioactivity, 1896. He and Marie & Pierre Curie received the Nobel Prize in physics in 1903. (Marie died of leukemia in 1934 — even now, her lab notebooks are too radioactive to handle without protection.)

William Thomson, Lord Kelvin (1824 - 1907) formulated the "Second" Law of Thermodynamics: Any time work is done, some energy is always lost as heat. Thus "perpetual motion" is impossible. The "First" Law, recognized later, says that energy cannot be created or destroyed, but only changed from one form (e.g. electricity) to another (e.g. spinning motor or light).

Lord Kelvin tried to calculate the age of the solar system — 24 million years, 1897, a great underestimate. He assumed that any greater age would leave the Sun depleated of whatever fuel burned there. He didn't know about nuclear fusion.

William Rontgen and X-rays, 1895;

Svante Arrhenius, of Sweden, warns that the release of carbon dioxide during the burning of fossil fuels will result in global warming, 1895;

Oscar Wilde (1856 - 1900), The Importance of Being Earnest, 1895;

First use of word, "chromosome," 1890;

Plain cheese pizza first invented in Italy, with tomato, basil, and mozzarello, yielding the colors of the Italian flag (red, green, and white) and honoring Queen Margherita, 1889.

Eiffel Tower opens, 1889;

Joseph Lister (1827-1912) and antiseptic surgery;

J. D. Hooker (1817- 1911) and botanical taxonomy;

Karl Benz's automobile and Gottlieb Daimler motorcycle, 1885;

Dmitri Mendeleev publishes Periodic Table of the Chemical Elements, 1869; 63 of the 92 naturally occurring elements were known;

Francis Galton (1822 - 1911) and eugenics, 1869;

Alfred Nobel patents dynamite, 1866;

Ernst Haeckel publishes evolutionary tree for mammals and remarkably recognizes close relationship between hippos and whales, 1866;

Gregor Mendel (1822-1884) and genetics, 1865;

Lewis Carroll (C.L. Dodgson) (1832 - 1898), Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, 1865;

Fossil of Archaeopteryx, link between reptile and bird, found in Germany, 1861;

Penny Illustrated Paper published from 1861 to 1913;

Louis Pasteur (1822-1895) and the germ theory of disease; pasteurizes milk, 1860;

Charles Darwin (1809-1882) publishes On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life, 1859;

  • Grandchildren like grandfathers
  • Tendency to small variation
  • Great fertility in proportion to support available

Alfred Russel Wallace, co-discoverer, evolution by natural selection;

Etienne Lenoir & internal combustion engine, 1858;

Herbert Spencer (1820 - 1903), Principles of Psychology, vol. I, 1855;

Alfonso Corti, Italy, describes cochlea of inner ear, 1851;

Little Ice Age, 1580 - 1850;

Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights, 1847;

Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre, 1847;

Irish potato famine kills one million, 1845-48;

First electric telegraph organized by Samuel Morse and others, 1844;

Wood-pulp paper, 1844;

Rowland Hill introduces flat-rate postage and adhesive stamp, 1840;

J.M. Daguerre invents the daguerreotype, first widely available form of photography, 1839;

First bicycle, 1839;

Matthias Schleiden and Theodor Schwann and cell theory, 1839;

First railway train enters London, 1838;

Louis Agassiz argues for existence of Ice Age, 1837;

Queen Victoria assumes throne and becomes Britain's longest-reigning monarch, 1837;

Charles Dickens, Pickwick Papers, 1836;

Charles Babbage and his mechanical computer, 1834;

Slavery abolished in the British Empire, 1834;

Charles Lyell publishes Principles of Geology, 1831 - 1833. He expounded on Hutton's theory of uniformitarianism (vs. catastrophism). Not only are the Earth's changes gradual, uniform, steady, but everything that has happened in the past can be explained by processes that are still occurring now (like erosion and mountain building). His view was extreme, for volcanos do erupt, comets strike, ice ages come and go, and species go extinct. But much of the Earth's history is long and gradual. Darwin took the book with him on his Beagle voyage around the world and used Lyell's ideas to help formulate his theory of natural selection.

Friedrich Wohler synthesizes organic compound, urea, 1828;

Rodolphe Töpffer draws first comic strip in Switzerland, 1827;

Jean-Baptiste Fourier, French mathematician, recognizes that Earth's atmosphere retains heat--Greenhouse Effect, 1827;

Louis Braille and raised script for the blind, 1827;

Hans Oersted and electromagnetism, 1820;

first use of term, "biology," 1819;

Mary Shelly, Frankenstein, 1818;

Napoleon defeated at Waterloo, 1815;

Jane Austen (1775 - 1817), Pride and Prejudice, 1813;

Luddites destroy industrial machinery in northern England, 1811;

First mechanical, steam-powered printing press, Friedrich Koenig, 1810;

Jean-Baptiste de Lamarck (1744-1829) publishes Zoological Philosophy: evolution by means of inheritance of acquired characteristics, 1809;

John Dalton and atoms and molecules, 1808;

Alessandro Volta and electric battery, 1806;

Napolean Bonaparte, Emperor of France, 1804 - 1815;

Lorenzo Avogadro finds that two equal volumes of any gases, at same temperature and pressure, will contain the same number of molecules, 1811, later found to be 6.02 x 1023 (This is about the number of cups of water in the Pacific Ocean.)

Benjamin Thompson, Count von Rumford (1753 - 1814) and drip coffeemaker, ~ 1800;

Suez Canal opened by Britain, 1869;

Egyptians begin dredging the Suez Canal, 1859;
Hong Kong colonized by Britain, 1842;

Singapore colonized by Britain, 1819;

Europeans in Micronesia

Convict transportation to Australia ceases, 1868;

Edward Bransfield sights the continent of Antarctica, 1820;

Tambora volcano erupts on Indonesian island of Sumbawa, kills 90,000, and causes global cooling — largest and deadliest eruption in recorded history, 1815;

top of page


world pop:

650 million

Benjamin Banneker, "first African-American man of science," publishes astronomical and mathematical almanacs, 1791-1802;

Thomas Paine and The Rights of Man, 1791;

Columbia chosen capital of SC, 1790;

First fossil dinosaur bone found in Woodbury Creek, NJ, 1787;

Union Co, 1785;

John James Audubon, 1785-1851;

Revolutionary battles of Cedar Springs and Musgrove’s Mill in Union Co., King’s Mt., 1780;

Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of Independence, 1776; thirteen colonies declare independance of Britain;

Revolution against Britain, 1775-83;

342 chests of tea dumped into Boston Harbor; coffee becomes popular, 1773;

Franklin's Poor Richard's Almanac, 1732 - 1757;

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) flies his kite: lightening is electrical, 1752;

Scotch-Irish settlers into Union County, 1751;

Benjamin Franklin opens first public library in America, 1732;

Printing press established in Charleston, SC, 1730;

Boston News Letter founded, first American newspaper, 1704

Yale U founded, 1701;

Age of Enlightenment — loosening of religion and faith and strengthening of secular reason;

perfectly preserved mammoth found frozen in Siberia, 1799;

Thomas Malthus (1766-1834), Essay On Population, 1798 — human over-population;

Edward Jenner and smallpox vaccination, 1796;

James Hutton (1726-1797) publishes A Theory of the Earth with Proofs and Illustrations, 1795. He noticed that soil was formed by erosion and that erosion carried that soil away. Given that, the Earth's surface should be flat. Yet there are still hills and mountains. There must be some uplifting process to counteract the down-wearing erosion.

first gas light, 1792;

James Boswell, Life of Johnson, 1791;

Metric system, 1790;

James Watt, steam engine, coal as fuel, 1785; Dutch chemist, Paul Crutzen suggests that this event marks the transition from the Holocene geological epoch (period since last glaciation) to the Anthropocene (the current period in which man can alter the planet on a geological scale);

First manned free flight in hot air balloon, 1783;

Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon made first scientific attempt to measure the age of the Earth, 1770s. He measured the rate at which heated spheres cooled. He assumed the Earth began as a molten mass and calculated how long it would have taken to cool to its present temperature — 75,000 – 168,000 years, a great under-estimate. What he didn't realize is that radioactive decay continues to produce heat and keep the plante's interior hot.

John Wesley (1703-1791) and Methodism; his Sermons, 1787;

Pilâtre de Rozier and Marquis d'Arlandes took to the air in a balloon in the first manned flight, France, 11/19/1783.

Encyclopédie edited by Denis Diderot and Jean le Rond d'Alembert, published 1751 - 1777;

Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier (1743 - 1793), father of modern chemistry, 1769; Law of Conservation of Mass;

first vol of Encyclopedia Britannica, 1768;

John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich, orders a sandwich, 1762;

Samuel Johnson publishes his dictionary — 42,773 words and 1st with illustrative quotations, 1755.

  • The King James Bible contains about 8,000 different words; Shakespeare's vocabulary is about 20,000; the average adult today uses 50,000; and the OED and Webster's 3rd New International contain about 500,000 (but technical and scientific terms would add maybe millions more). In contrast, German has about 185,000 and French fewer than 100,000.

first female M.D., Germany, 1754;

Karl Scheele first manufactures phosphorus matches, 1750s;

Henry Fielding, Tom Jones, 1749;

Leonhard Euler derives the number e = 2.71828. . . , natural log base, 1748;

Nitrous oxide used as anesthetic, 1846;

Carolus Linnaeus (1707-1778) publishes Systema Naturae: taxonomy, 1735; 10th ed cataloged 7,700 species of plants & 4,400 animals, 1759 (1.75 million species are cataloged today);

Robert Brown and Brownian movement, 1727;

Last witchcraft trial in England, 1717;

Jonathan Swift (1667- 1745), Gulliiver's Travels, 1726;

Louis XIV King of France, 1643 - 1715;

Daniel Fahrenheit and mercury thermometer, 1714;

Pendulum clock replaces water clock;

Rise of atheism;

British rule in India, 1765 – 1947;

First Russian prisoners sent to Siberia, 1709;

Western settlers to New Zealand, 1790;

British First Fleet into Australia, first convicts transported, 1788;

Capt Cook arrives in Australia, 1770;

Capt Cook arrives on Easter Is, Easter Day, 1722, to find the island utterly treeless and eroded to resemble sand dunes; he found no wood for fuel and little fresh water but hundreds of stone images, some as tall as houses;

top of page


world pop:

500 million

William & Mary College, VA, 1693;

Salem witchcraft executions, 1692;

La Salle explores Mississippi, 1682;

Charleston, S.C. founded, 1670;

Hudson’s Bay Co., 1670;

Montreal founded, 1642;

Bay Psalm Book, first book printed in America, 1640;

first printing press established at Cambridge, 1639;

Roger Williams founds Baptist Church, Providence, R.I., 1639;

Harvard College founded, 1636;

first Thanksgiving celebrated, 1621;

Mayflower lands on Cape Cod and establishes colony at Plymouth, MA, 1620;

First African slaves arrive in Virginia, 1619;

Henry Hudson explores Hudson River, 1609;

English settlement in Bermuda, 1609;

Founding of Jamestown, VA, 1607;


Sir Isaac Newton publishes Principia Mathematica: laws of motion, gravity, and scientific method, 1687;

John Ray classifies 18,600 plant species, 1686;

Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, 1678;

Leeuwenhoek (1632-1723) and microscopy, 1676;

Sir Isaac Newton and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz invent calculus, 1670;

Dom Pérignon, Benedictine monk, creates Champagne, 1670;

Samuel Pepys' Diary, 1660 - 1669 (pub 1825);

Blood transfusion between a sheep and a human, 1667 (it didn’t work);

Milton's Paradise Lost, 1667;

Robert Boyle publishes The Sceptical Chymist, the first work to distinguish between chemistry and alchemy, 1661;

Royal Society chartered in England, 1660;

Pierre de Fermat and Blaise Pascal develop basis for theory of probability, 1654;

First coffee house opened in England, 1652;

Archbishop James Ussher publishes Annals of the Old Testament, 1650. He used the Bible and other historical documents to calculate the age of the Earth. He concluded it was created on Saturday, October 22, 4004 BC. Furthermore, based on the statement from Genesis, "And the evening and the morning were the first day." he announced that time began at 6 p.m. on that day. Many accepted this time scale for many years, but Rev. William Bickland noted in the 1800s that the Bible does not suggest that God made Heaven and Earth on the first day but only "in the beginning." That beginning may well have lasted "millions upon millions of years."

Redi (1626-1697), biogenesis, and the scientific control;

Evangelista Torricelli and atmospheric barometer, 1643;

Rene Descartes and skepticism in analysis, 1637;

John Donne's collected Poems, 1633;

William Harvey and human circulatory system, 1629;

William Oughtred invents slide rule in England, 1621;

Francis Bacon promotes careful study and inductive reasoning as a basis for scientific study, 1620;

Letter "J" added to English alphabet, 1620;

Galileo identifies four moons of Jupiter, 1610. No one before had seen a moon other than our own.

Harvey (1578-1657) and blood circulation;

King James translation of Bible, 1611;

Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) and elliptical orbits, 1609;

Hans Lippershey, Flemish spectacle-maker, patented first telescope, 1608; Galileo quickly developed improvements and in 1609 presented a 10X instrument to the Doge of Venice that, in Galileo's words, performed "to the infinite amazement of all."

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra writes Don Quixote, some consider first modern novel, 1605; but see 4,000 BP.

Robert Cawdrey and first English dictionary, The Table Alphabeticall, only 2,521 entries, 1604.

William Gilbert postulates that the Earth is a big magnet, 1600;

China open to foreign trade, 1685;

Dodo extinct, 1680;

Ming dynasty replaced by Manchu or Qing, 1644 (until 1912); Great Wall abandoned.

first English settlement in India, 1624;

British East India Company into India, 1612;

top of page


world pop:

460 million

Mercator uses name America for first time, 1538;

two million Indians die in SA of typhoid;

Portuguese colonize Brazil, 1530;

Lucas Vasquez de Ayllon of Spain, first European in SC, Winyaw Bay, 1521;

Europeans arrive in SA, 1519;

Shakespeare's Globe Theater built outside London, 1599. He wrote 38 plays, 154 sonnets, and other poems. Some 2000 English words were first used by him.

John Harington invents toilet in England but not widely used for centuries, 1596;

Galileo invents air thermometer, 1592;

Spenser's Faerie Queene, 1590 - 1596;

Zacharias Janssen builds first microscope, 1590;

"First" ballet at the royal court in France, Ballet Comique de la Reine, 1581.

Montaigne's Essays, first modern "personal" essays, 1580;

Jost Burgi, in Germany, adds minute hand to clock, 1577;

Opera invented in Italy, ~1570;

Bernard Palissy suggests that fossils in the soil represent extinct forms of life, 1570;

Galileo, 1564-1642;

Shakespeare's, (1564-1616) Romeo and Juliet and Midsummer Night's Dream, 1596;

Bartholomeo Eustachi, human anatomy, ~1560;

Andreas Vesalius publishes human anatomy text and displaces Galen as authority, 1543;

Graphite pencil in England, 1564;

First English novel, Beware the Cat, William Baldwin, 1553.

Book of Common Prayer, 1548 - 1552;

first Caesarian section;

first bottled beer;

first fork;

William Tyndale, beautiful translation of New Testament from original Greek and Hebrew into English. King Henry VIII's court (reigned 1509 - 1547) found him guilty of heresy in 1536 and strangled him. King Henry's marital difficulties led to Protestantism in England and many translations of the Bible followed. In 1611, the King James version retained much of Tyndale's language.

Francois Rabelais and Gargantua and Pantagruel, 1534-1554, first great novel in French literature;

Martin Luther and Reformation, demands nailed to Catholic church door, Wittenberg, 1517, Bible translated into German, development of Protestantism;

Copernicus (1473-1543) and heliocentric universe;

More's Utopia, 1516;

Pocket watch in Germany, 1500;

vodka Spain into Philippines, build Manila;


world pop:

360 million

Cahokia (Illinois) abandonded, probably due to deforestation and other environmental pressures.

Population of Americas as high as 100 million, more than Europe, before Old World diseases strike, 1491;

Machu Picchu occupied in Peru, Incan, 1450-1575;

First known syphillis epidemic in Europe, thought to have been brought back from New World by Columbus, 1495;

Christopher Columbus, 1451-1506; lands on San Salvador, 1492;

Standard =Modern English begins to form, 1480 (and would develop for ~300 years before being really recognizable);

Caxton prints (at Bruges) the first book printed in English (Recuyell of the Histories of Troy), 1474;

Leonardo da Vinci, 1452-1519;

Eyeglasses to correct nearsightedness developed, 1450.

Johannes Gutenberg (1398-1468) and movable type, flatbed printing press in Germany, 1453. William Caxton ran the first press in England (1476). This technology led to efforts to standardize spelling so books could be widely read (at the time, there were over 500 different spellings of "through" and over 60 of "she.")

William Tell;

Beginnings of ballet in Italy;

A wedding at Hvalsey Church in 1408 provides the last historical account from Greenland. 190 Viking settlements were deserted as the Little Ice Age began;

Men began to hit small balls with curved sticks about the links of Scotland and golf was born, 1400.

fall of Constantinople and end of Easern Empire, 1453;

coffee first brewed

Toothbrush with bristles perpendicular to handle in China, 1498;

Chinese encyclopedia of 22,937 vol (only 3 copies made);

Russians begin to explore Siberia;

The last palm tree is cut on Easter Island, the logs used to move and erect the 1000 giant stone images carved to honor various clan ancestry; on such a small island, those who cut this tree could see that it was the last, but they cut it anyway (Ronald Wright, "Fools' Paradise," Times Literary Supppl, 5303:16, 11-19-2004);


world pop:

400 million

Aztec capital, Tenochtitlan; Geoffrey Chaucer (1340-1400) and Canterbury Tales, 1390, written in Middle English — has never been out of print.

Robin Hood;


John Wycliffe (d. 1384) organized the first English translation of the Latin Bible, ~ 1380. In 1415, he was condemned as a heretic. His bones were exhumed and burned.

Black Death, Pasteurella pestis, kills 75 million, including 1/3 of Europe's population at the time, 1347 - 1350;

Dante’s (1265 - 1321) Divine Comedy, 1307 - 1321;

Marco Polo's Travels, 1300;

Ming come to power in China, 1368 - greatest period of Great Wall building occurs until 1644. There are 3,000 to 4,000 miles of walls, some masonry, some tamped earth (but it's not visible from Space). All eleven species of moas, huge ostrich-like birds without wings, extinct on New Zealand.


world pop:

380 million

Aztec culture in Mexico;

complex Amazon society, Mato Grosso, Brazil, towns of up to 5,000, circular plazas, broad straight roads, bridges, moats, canals, and ponds, agriculture, pottery, and managed forest, 1250 - 1600 AD (Science, 301:1710-1714, 2003);

great drought and Anasazi disappear from American SW;

William of Ockham (1285-1349) argues for simplicity in all explanation;

Eyeglasses to correct farsightedness developed in Italy, 1280 (nearsightedness not corrected until 1450).

First coal mine in England;

Marco Polo, 1254-1324;

Sonnet poetic form invented in Sicily, 1235, perhaps by Giacomo da Lentini (ca. 1210--1260).

Button and buttonhole in Germany, 1235;

Earliest sections of what is now the Louvre Museum built, 1230;

Spectacles in Italy;

Idea of zero first appears in Europe;

Magna Charta, 1215;

rise of Islam in India;

Genghis Khan;

Humans (Maori) to New Zealand.

Human population on Easter Island reaches 10,000 (on 66 square miles); eventually more than 1000 stone images or moai would be carved, the tallest 65 ft and 200 tons;


world pop:

310 million

severe drought in western USA from 900 to 1300 (Science, 306:1015, 2004) Richard I (The Lion-hearted) reigned, 1189 - 1199;

Notre Dame, Paris;



Oxford U founded, 1166;

King Henry II, first of the Plantagenets and Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine crowned, 1154. English acquires new words from French, including language of romance, ushering in Age of Chivalry — legend of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table grows.

Kentish Homilies published, earliest example of a Middle English text, 1150;

Nibelungenlied, great epic poem treating early Germanic history, 1150;

playing cards Humans to Easter Island, most remote habitable land in world, 1,300 miles away from nearest neighbor (Science 311:1603, 2006);
top of page


world pop:

280 million

Mesa Verde cliff dwellings, Anasazi.

Height of Mayan civilization in the Yucatan.

Erik the Red's son, Lief Eriksson, colonizes Newfoundland, L'Anse aux Meadow, Viking settlement of about 100 residents.

The First Crusade, 1096 - 1099;

Domesday Book, important English census, 1086;

William the Conqueror and Normans (French of Norse ancestory) invade Britain and defeat King Harold and most of his earls at Battle of Hastings, 1066. Much French is incorporated into English and Latin components strengthened.

Pope excommunicates Patriarch of Constantinople and so splits Church into Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox divisions, 1054.

A supernova creates the Crab Nebula, 1054.


Harp arrives in Europe.

Consecration of Westminster Abbey.

Medieval Warm Period from 900 to 1300.

Brian Boru unites Ireland, 1002.

Beowulf written, 1000;

Omar Khayyam (1048-1131), Persian poet and astronomer;

Two-pronged fork in use in Byzantium.

Avicenna (b. 980) writes over 100 books of medicine and philosophy, including Canon of Medicine, which remained popular throughout western world into the 17th century.

Timbuktu grows from desert camp to permanent settlement and trade center on southern edge of Sahara (today, town of 15,000 in Mali).

Gunpowder devised by alchemists of Tang dynasty, 1000;

First water-driven mechanical clock;


Toltecs move into the Yucatan Peninsula (formerly Mayan) and found their empire, 987.

Vikings colonize Greenland, Eric the Red;

Cahokia culture (Illinois) builds 4-sided, flat-topped pyramids — largest in Americas and larger footprint than any in Egypt.

Erik the Red colonizes Greenland, 985, during Medieval Warm Period (890 - 1170);

beer (with hops);

a London bridge;

St. Marks Cathedral, Venice;

organ with 400 pipes at Winchester Monastery;

beginnings of Arabian A Thousand and One Nights;

Al-Azhar, world's oldest university, founded in Cairo.

flowering of rationalism among Arab Muslims, science, math, medicine;

Chinese encyclopedia of 1000 vol;

Cyrillic alphabet formed from Greek;

Ninety per cent of Hawaii's native bird species extinct.


A variety of corn appropriate to American midwest introduced into Illinois and establishment of Cahokia on Mississippi R. Two or three hundred years later, this settlement would have 25,000 residents and be the most active population center north of the Rio Grande.

The Incan Empire, centered in Peru, was the largest in the Americas. It lacked a written language but used khipu, knotted strings, for record-keeping.

Oldest large-scale brewery in Peru: multi-room, supports for 20, 50-liter vessels, production of chicha from fruits and grain and spiced with pepper seeds (Science, 305:774, 2004).

urban centers of 60,000 people;

Alfred the Great (871 - 901) rallies the English, beats the Danes at Ethandune, and saves the English language.

Charlemagne crowned first holy Roman Emperor;

Norse settle Iceland, 860;

Vikings from Norway and Denmark overrun Britain with their Old Norse language, 850.

crossbow in France;

earliest Hebrew manuscript of the Old Testament; Medieval society of Angkor, a Khmer kingdom that covered much of today's Cambodia, Thailand, and southern Vietman, established — immense palaces, temples, and waterworks, population of hundreds of thousands, and Hindu temple of Angkor Wat, the largest religious monument in the world. Abandoned about 1500. Human emigration from central South Pacific into eastern — Cooks, Society Is., Marquesas, and Hawaii.


Casa Grande in Arizona;

turkeys domesticated;

Scribes begin to put spaces between words and to use capitalization and punctuation.

Viking age begins in Scandinavia.

first printed newspaper;

In Japan, Shintoism develops out of a combination of nature and ancestor worships.


city of Teotihucan, Mexico, pop as much as 200,000; Beowulf, greatest Old English poem, probably composed ca. 450–700;

First English school at Canterbury;

Glass windows;

Old English script and alphabet of 24 letters formed from Roman alphabet.

Koran, 633;

Muhammad and Islam, 622: at present, second largest religion:

Christianity—2 bil

Islam—1.3 bil

Hinduism—900 mil

Buddhism—360 mil

book printing;

petroleum used as fuel;

sophisticated plastic and other surgery in India;

top of page


Anasazi pottery, bow and arrow Augustine arrives in Kent in Britain with Church Latin and Greek and script writing (characters composed of flowing lines suitable for writing on parchment), 597.

King Arthur;

New Testament in Greek and Latin;

Rome falls;

Reindeer domesticated in Scandinavia.

decline of paganism Gunpowder;

Chess invented in India;

Japan appropiates written language of China (none prior);


maize in NA Attila the Hun died, 453;

Venice founded by refugees from Attila’s Huns, 452;

The English language begins as a Germanic dialect, brought to Britain by warrier tribes (449) and by peaceful immigrant farmers, the Saxons, Angles, Jutes, and others — included runic writing (characters composed of straight lines, suitable for carving). The native Celtic languages survived in the Gaelic of Wales, Cornwall, and N. Scotland, and some Celtic words were absorbed into "Old English."

Romans depart England, 407;

Lowercase letters of the alphabet emerge as Roman capitals rendered in just one or two pen strokes, 300 - 800, and formalized in later Middle Ages when movable type was invented;

beginnings of alchemy


Idea of zero first appears in Americas in Mayan carving, 357; Christianity state religion in Roman empire.

Bowling is religious ritual in German monasteries;

Scrolls replaced by books;

Beginning of transformation of Latin into Romance (as in "Rome") languages ~200 - 800 AD

Huns invade;

Horse collar in China


Mayan script (800 pictures and syllable glyphs);

maize in NA;

Romans change from an 8-day to a 7-day week;

Diophantus and first book on algebra, 250;

First windmills in Persia and China;


oldest Mayan monuments, 164; Galen (131-200), Greek physician;

Ptolemy (100-170) and geocentric universe;

Pompeii buried, 79;

Romans learned use of soap, 50;

London founded, 43;

All mammals on Madagascar weighing more than twenty pounds, including pygmy hippos and giant lemusrs, extinct.

First historical reference to brassiere, in India, during the rule of king Harshavardhana.
Abacus, bead calculating machine, used in China, 190;

Wheelbarrow in China, 118;

Wood-pulp paper in China;

Buddhism to China from India, 61;

top of page


world pop:

130 million

eastern woodland tribes in NA Julius Caesar invades Britain, 54 BC; Jesus Christ born, 4 BC;

Caesar burns huge library at Alexandria, 48 BC;

humans first into Madagascar;

100 BC

SW Anasazi in NA;

oldest Mayan wall painting;

First bound book, Greece;

Screw olive oil press, Rome;

powdered chrysanthemum, insecticide, 100 BC;

Chinese dictionary of 10,000 characters, 149 BC;

200 BC

Mayan hieroglyphs, 250 BC; Greeks practice crop rotation, 250 BC;

Romans rule Italy, prelude to empire, 250 BC;

Euclid uses mathematical axioms and logical deduction for geometric proofs;

Archimedes, 287-212 BC;

ghdadis first harnessed electricity using clay pots lined with copper, 230 BC (Harper's Magazine,

Eratosthenes (b. ~276 BC in modern-day Libya) proves Earth is spherical and calculates circumference at 250,000 stades = 39,250 km (now measured at 40,100 km).
Qin Shihuang first emperor of China - commands construction of 3,000 miles of wall across northern territory, 221 BC; construction of "walls" continues sporadically over next 2,000 yrs;

Saddle and metal stirrup;

300 BC

Tobacco use documented in Vermont, 300 BC;

Mexican Sun Temple, world's third largest pyramid, built at Teotihuacan, a capitol city of 200, 000 people, 300 BC;

oldest Mayan hieroglyphs, 350 BC;

Euclid, 325-270 BC;

Aristotle, 384-322 BC, first to argue that logical reasoning could lead to an understanding of the universe;

Heraclides teaches heliocentric system, 350 BC;

400 BC

Leucippus and Democritus present the earliest known version of atomic theory, that all matter is made up of tiny, indestructible particles, 499-300 BC;

Plato, 427-347 BC, focuses on logic, reason, the value of theory, and the nature of wisdom;

Hippocrates (460-370 BC), Greek phsician;

Socrates, 470-399 BC;

Iron Age in Scandinavia;

Catapult or slingshot, Greece;

Polished natural surfaces have been used as mirrors for a long time, but the first artificial mirror was made by applying gold, silver, or copper leaf to a sheet of glass in Lebanon.

500 BC

Mayan civilization in Mexico; Pythagoras, 560-480 BC;

The Roman arched stone bridge improves upon the Greek pillar-and-beam design.

public libraries in Athens;

Greek writing settles on left-to-right format (earlier, it ran either way);

Rye one of last cereal crops to be domesticated, popular in northern Europe and Russia where cold-hardiness made it useful, 500 BC.

Phoenicians circumnavigate Africa;

struggle in Middle East of monotheism over polytheism;

many books of Old Testament first written down in Hebrew;

Necho II of Egypt attempted unsuccessfully to dig a navigable canal from the Nile to the Red Sea;

Confucious is first (that we know of) to formulate the Golden Rule. "Never do to others what you would not like them to do to you." All faiths now include this kind of compassion and empathy.

Confucius in China, 551-479 BC;

Buddha in India, 563-483 BC, good and compassionate life leads to nirvana; again tolerance of multiple gods;

cataract surgery in India;

Aesop’s Fables;

tea brewed;

600 BC

Olmec culture in Central America, early written language in New World, glyphs dated to 650 BC; Thales(624-546 BC), founder of Greek science;

Spartans become unusually militaristic, boys trained from age 7 to fight to the death -- military leader in Greece;

Athens abolishes monarchy and focuses on commercial success;

Romans adopt Etruscan alphabet;

Navigational lighthouse; China enters iron age;

700 BC

Etruscans (Italy) copy Greek alphabet;

False teeth carved of bone or ivory, or from human cadavers, in gold bridgework - Etruscan;

Rome founded 753 BC;

first recorded Olympic Games, Greece, 776 BC;

Celts into England;

Prophets Isaiah, Amos, and Hosea argue that religion is not only for the temple but for everyday life: love, justice, compassion for all; Hinduism begins to develop in India, yoga, impersonal divine power, trinity of Brahman, Shiva, and Vishnu, but tolerance of multiple gods;

800 BC

wood and reed huts in CA; Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, 800 BC;

Greek alphabet formed from Phoenician, 26 letters;

Assyrians learn to mount and ride horse; zero invented in India;

900 BC

Olmec culture at peak, Mexico;

Cascajal stone block found near Veracruz with early Olmec script - oldest New-World writing so far found;

Solomon reign over Israel, time of maximum territory and prosperity, 962-922 BC;

ancient Hebrew script formed from Phoenician alphabet, 950;

iron-working in Gabon, 961 BC;

top of page

1,000 BC

world pop:

50 million

Mexican Sun Pyramid in Teotihuacan;

plains tribes in NA;

midwest and eastern mounds in NA;

sunflower in NA;

Turkey domesticated.

tobacco seeds from cave in New Mexico dated to 1040 BC;

Olmec culture, Mexico, cities, first technologically complex society in the Americas, 1800 BC;

Trojan War, 1200 BC;

Iron Age, 1200 BC;

Bronze tools crafted in Arctic Scandinavia, 1300 BC.

Zeus, god;

Santorini erupts on Greek isle of Thera spreading ash worldwide — frost-damaged trees in Ireland and California, 1625 BC;

distilled liquor in Greece;

Israelite Exodus from Egypt under Moses, 1200 BC;

carbonized iron or steel, 1300 BC;

Amenophis IV rules Egypt, first monotheist, renames himself Akhenaton or "servant of Aton, sun-god", 1379-1362 BC;

Glass vessels made by carving glass blocks, 1,450 BC;

Fulcrum added to paddle to create oar in Phoenicia, 1,500 BC;

First shoes shaped to fit each foot in Egypt, 1,500 BC;

Hammurabi and first legal system, 1728 BC;

Abraham and grandson Jacob settled West Bank, 1800 BC, patriarchs of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam;

contraceptives used;

Phoenicians copy Egyptian alphabet and make it their own;

four elements known: earth, air, fire, water;

Shang dynasty rules 5 million people, already most populous kingdom;

first Chinese dictionary;


use of horse and chariot in battle;

earliest sign of whaling in Russia—kayaks, sealskin floats, and harpoons;

Humans begin to arrive in Polynesia and Micronesia;

The long delay seems to have been caused by the melting of the great ice sheets after the last glaciation and consequent high sea levels. The eastern Pacific islands were still under water. Still later, the removal of that weight of ice allowed the earth’s crust to rebound and shift, and the islands rose above the sea. As soon as they did, humans arrived to take advantage of the new living space.

Years Before Present (YBP)

world pop:

30 million

cotton cultivation in Peru;


beginnings of agriculture in eastern NA;

oldest New World astronomical observatory (and temple) found in Andean foothills of Peru, 4,200 YBP;

major urban society in Peru, 2900-1800 BC, one of world's few "cradles of civilization" eg. Mesopotamia, Egypt, China, and India (Science, 307:34, 2005);



gold jewelry in Peru;


weaving loom;

rock carving of skiing in Norway;

agriculture spreads to Scandinavia;

Flushing toilet in Crete, 4,000 YBP;

Lock & key carved of wood in Egypt, 4,000 YBP;

Earliest known maps in Mesopotamia, 4,300 YBP;

Irrigation canals in Sumer, 4,400 YBP;

Parasol in Mesopotamia, 4,400 YBP;


First novel, The Tale of Sinuhe. These earliest Egyptian prototypes bring us "sustained narrative, dialogue, characterization, formal strategies, rhetorical devices, even parody, pornography, metafiction, and magic realism." And by 3700 YBP in Mesopotamia, we find the "first author for whom we actually have a name: Ipiq-Aya." (Steven Moore, in The Novel, An Alternative History: Beginnings to 1600, 2010)

first library;

first calendar;

first 365 day year;

Ink of lampblack and glue or gums, Egypt, 4,500 YBP;

first New Year's resolution;

Great Pyramid of Cheops at Giza built, 4,900 YBP;

Swimming pool, Egypt, 4,500 YBP;


glass beads, 4,500 YBP;

irrigation along Nile;

Sumerian flood discovered by Woolley, 300 miles by 100 miles, 25 feet deep; possible origin of worldwide flood myth;

Soap made from animal oils and ashes, 4,800 YBP;

first phonetic alphabet formed by Semitic peoples in Egypt, just 27 symbols, one per sound rather than one per syllable or per word as earlier; ancestor of all Western scripts today;




top of page

Years Before Present (YBP)

world pop:
14 million





turkeys in NA;

second human migration from Asia, Eskimos;

Stonehenge built between 3,000 and 2,500 BC;

Oldest known skis crafted in northern Sweden, 5200 YBP.

Construction began on Hypogeum, an underground temple believed to be the oldest known human-made structure in the world — labyrinth of chambers and passageways carved in the limestone of Malta with simple bone and stone tools, 3,600 BC.

sheep, goats, cattle, pigs introduced;

First pyramids built at Memphis of huge stone blocks, 5,000 YBP;

Asteroid entered atmosphere? and rained "brimstone and fire" onto Sodom and Gomorrah, 3,123 BC. (It crashed into the Austrian Alps.)

wheel invented in Mesopotamia;



water buffalo;


candle of tallow or beeswax;

potter’s wheel;

Donkey in Egypt—earliest evidence of use of animals for goods transport;

Horse domesticated.

Egyptian city-states unify into first "nation"

first writing and start of "historic" age: Sumerian cuneiform in Middle East (over 400 signs each representing a syllable or word), hieroglyphics in Egypt ( about 700 signs), and Indus River script (but this one consists of relatively few signs and relatively short "texts" and might not be writing; (Science 306:2026, 2004);

Sumerian number systems based on 12, 60, and 360;

After mid-Holocene humid period (~6,000 YBP), arid conditions developed and Sahara Desert formed —largest warm-climate desert on Earth— but desert conditions have come and gone there for at least 7 million years (Science 311:821, 2006);



mung beans;


Chinese writing system eventually incorporates 60,000 logograms;

6,000 YBP

world pop:
10 million

llamas and alpacas; Archbishop Ussher (in 1650) used Old Testament chronology to date the Creation of the universe at 4004 BC.
Sumerians, first great civilized culture, cities of 100,000;

Stone-paved streets in Iraq, 6,000 YBP;

Earliest stringed instruments, 6,500 YBP;




melons in Africa;

Proto-Indo-European spoken language -- later gave rise to Indian and to Romance, Germanic, Slavic, Celtic and other European languages;

Horse domesticated on Ukrainian steppes;

wheat and buckwheat;


lactose-tolerance gene appears (and ability to digest milk as adult) between Urals and Volga R (Science, 306:1285, 2004); the gene is found in a variety of groups whose ancestors were herders;

7,000 YBP

world pop:
5 million

Cassava domesticated in Brazil, 7,000 YBP.

chili peppers;



Initial colonization of Ireland.

Domestic goats introduced into southwestern Europe;
Smelting and casting of copper and iron, 7,000 YPB;

wheat in Egypt;

First scale, an equal-arm balance used to weigh gold dust, 7,000 YBP;

Sumerians in M.E.

sailing ships;



horse domesticated;

banana in New Guinea

8,000 YBP

sea level rise separates Britain from continent Sorghum domesticated in NE Africa, 8,000 YBP.

Chickens domesticated.


Rafts used on rivers;


First evidence of weaving, 8,500 YBP, but sophisticated — weaving may have begun up to 10,000 years ago.

Flax perhaps first crop grown other than for food (linen).

arboriculture in Thailand;

evidence of dental work in Pakistan, holes drilled in molars with sharpened flint points;

Sugarcane cultivated in New Guinea, 8,000 YBP.

9,000 YBP

9,400 year-old Kennewick Man, one of oldest skeletons in NA, discovered in 1996;

maize and squash first domesticated in Mexico;

potato in SA

Middle East agriculture spreads to Europe; metalworking;


City-states established along Euphrates and Nile rivers;

First city: Çatal Hüyük in Turkey;

Jericho, 10 acres and 2500 population;


Rice grown in paddies in China. First domestication and source of all rice worldwide, 8-9,000 YBP.
agriculture in New Guinea
top of page

10,000 YBP

More than thirty species of South American "megamammals," including elephant-size ground sloths and rhino-like toxodons, went extinct.
Jericho, first walled town;

Copper first worked to produce metal tools, 10,500 YBP;

Barley for ale;

Wheat first domesticated in Middle East;

You can recognize domesticated grain in that wild seed heads shatter easily and leave smooth abscission scars, while domestic cereals need to be threshed and leave jagged scars.

Cows domesticated.

Cats domesticated by this time in Cyprus (Science 304:189, 2004);

Sahara gradually changes from grassland to desert;

11,000 YBP

Most large mammals extinct: mammoths, camels, mastodons, giant beavers, sabre-toothed tigers horse, etc. Last of ice age glaciers retreat worldwide; sea levels rise, isolating Britain, Japan, Tasmania; Creation of Eden myth reflecting transition from freedom of hunting/gathering to servatude of agriculture;

Sheep, goats, and pigs domesticated;

Figs domesticated, 11, 400 YBP — "oldest evidence for deliberate planting of a food-producing plant" Science 312:1292, 2006;

Development of agriculture in Fertile Crescent between Tigris and Euphrates rivers and independently along the banks of the Nile;

Evidence of algae in diet;

Development of agriculture in China;

12,000 YBP

Humans grew and stored wild grains for more than a millennium before they began growing domesticated plants. The surplusses were stored and enables people to settle and to develop farming techniues and new crops. (Wilson Quarterly, 33-4:80, 2009) First pottery;

13,000 YBP

Clovis culture throughout North & Central America, stone points most efficient big-game killers of Stone Age;

14,000 YBP

Nenana culture in Alaska;

stone tools in Allendale, S.C.;

Fossilized feces found in a cave in Oregon, 14,340 YBP (Science online, 4-4-08).

human colonization of the Americas across the Bering Land Bridge;

Dog first domesticated from ancient wolves, 12,000-135,000 years ago (Science, 298:1540, 2002); earliest known dog burial, 14,000 years ago in Germany;

hunting and gathering;

15,000 YBP

possible pre-Clovis site in Chile

16,000 YBP

Famous cave paintings at Altair, Spain, 16,000 ybp;

Sophisticated rock art in Australia, called the Bradshaw paintings after their discoverer in 1891;

17,000 YBP

18,000 YBP

controversial human site at Cactus Hill, VA, 18,000 ybp;
big game hunting in South Africa
Homo floresiensis, small (3 ft.) decendent of H. erectus (as is Homo sapiens) still present in Indonesia until about 18,000 years ago;

How remarkable, for we know that full-sized Homo sapiens reached Australia and New Guinea long before, that most large mammals then went extinct, and that humans exterminated competing humans even more vigorously than they have non-human mammals. How did the floresiensis survive the coming of sapiens? (see Science 306:789 & 2047, 2004; 307:1386, 2005; 308:242, 2005)

(Further study suggests that Homo floresiensis was really a pygmy Homo sapiens with a growth disorder - Science News 170:330, 2006)

19,000 YBP

top of page

20,000 YBP

maximum glacial advance, 20,000 - 25,000 YBP;
grinding stone in Isreal used to mill barley and wheat: first evidence of processed food, 22,000 YBP (Science, 305:940, 2004);

30,000 YBP

Paleolithic human settlement on Yana R. in Siberia, near Alaska, 30,000 YBP; Neanderthals disappeared, 30,000 YBP;

Oldest known sculpture, Venus Of Willendorf, 11 cm, limestone, 30,000 YBP;

The Cave of Chauvet, with paintings 31,000 years old.

The oldest musical instrument, flutes fashioned from bird bones, found in Germany, 32,000 YBP (but first instruments probably more perishable and much older) (Science 306:1120, 2004)

Flax fibers used to weave cloth and dyed black, gray, turquoise, and pink, in Georgia, Caucasus Mts., 36,000 YBP (Science 325:1329, 2009).

bow and arrow;

fishing with hook, 38,000 YBP;

40,000 YBP

cave paintings Bead decoration in Africa, 42,0000 YBP; first hints of culture, perhaps of language that dealt with more than the immediate present; Oldest remains of a tented village found in Moldova in Russia, 40,000 YBP; Humans into New Guinea, 45,000;

Every species of marsupial in Australia weighing more than two hundred pounds (19 species) went extinct, 46,000 YBP;

50,000 YBP

Genetic evidence of major back-migration from Asia into Africa;
Humans arrive in Australia, 56,000 YBP;

60,000 YBP

The successful expansion of Homo sapiens out of Africa beginning about 60,000 years ago. Humans arrive in China, 60,000 YBP;

70,000 YBP

Evidence of animal skins used as clothing. Human population as low as 15,000 caused by six-year volcanic winter followed by a thousand-year ice age, resulting in surprising genetic uniformity among humans today.

Lamp burning animal fat, 70,000 YBP;

Snail-shell bead jewelry, found in east Africa, 75,000 YBP (Science, 304:404, 2004)

80,000 YBP

90,000 YBP

Homo sapiens skulls found in Israel, 90,000 YBP;

top of page

100,000 YBP

Oldest known jewelry, snail-shell beads in Isreal, 115,000 YBP (Science News, 170#2:30, 7/8/06);

Homo sapiens in eastern Africa, 160,000 YBP;

There are approximately one hundred billion neurons in the human brain, about the same number as stars in the Milky Way, and about five hundred trillion synapses or connections. The number of possible circuits, then, is ten followed by a million zeros (the number of particles in the known universe is only ten followed by seventy-nine zeros) (Harper's Magazine, p84, June 2008).

Third expansion of Homo from Africa into Asia between 150,000 and 80,000 YBP

200,000 YBP

Homo erectus extinct, 250,000 YBP

300,000 YBP

world pop:
1 million

Neanderthal Man split from modern humans, first humans to bury their dead, 350,000 YBP;

first to discover gods?

grammatical language; hackberry seeds roasted and eaten;

400,000 YBP

500,000 YBP

Homo disappears from Britain during ice ages. No further continuous presence until 12,000 YBP.

Homo, Boxgrove Man, in England, 500,000 YBP

Homo sapiens emerging from Homo erectus, 500, 000 YBP Remains of artificial shelter found at Chichibu, Japan, dated 500,000 YBP;

600,000 YBP

first of series of ice ages; Homo makes shelters of rock and hides, uses caves, 600,000 YBP

700,000 YBP

Homo in England, tools, 700,000 YBP
Second expansion of Homo from Africa into Asia between 840,000 and 420,000 YBP

800,000 YBP

900,000 YBP

top of page

1,000,000 YBP

world pop:

Homo erectus in Europe, 1.2 million YBP. Australopithicus extinct, 1 million YBP;

Fire used, 1.5 million YBP; no other genus than Homo has been able to use fire.

Homo erectus in M.E., better stone tools, big-game hunting, 1.7 million YBP

Stone tools in China dated at 1.36 million YBP;

Homo erectus in China and Java;

graphic from Science, 308:1554, 2005)

2,000,000 YBP

Homo develops long-distance or endurance running ability, possibly allowing more effective scavenging. A modern human can "actually outrun a pony easily." Early humans, apes, and other mammals cannot endurance run. 2 million YBP (Science, 306:1283, 2004)

Homo in Africa, increased brain size, stone tools, 2.5 million YBP;

Comparative Mammal Brain Sizes

3,000,000 YBP

Australopithicus afarensis

The fossil Lucy and 13 others, the "First Family," 3.2 million YBP

Footprints found by Mary Leakey at Laetoli, clearly upright stride, 3.6 million YBP

4,000,000 YBP

The mastodon roamed NA from about 4 million to 10,000 YBP;
Australopithicus anamensis

80 fossils found near Lake Turkana, well forested at the time, erect posture but grasping big toe like chimp, 4.1 million YBP;

Ardipithecus ramidus
erect posture but thick tooth enamel like chimp, 4.4 million YBP

5,000,000 YBP

humans, S-shaped spinal column and fully upright posture, 5 million YBP

Some advantages of an erect posture—
  • carry food home
  • look over the tall savannah grasses
  • wade in deeper water
  • less exposure to the sun (skin pigmentation and hair on head additional protection)
  • more heat dissipation

6,000,000 YBP

Our great-great-(250,000 greats)- grandparents gave rise to both humans and chimpanzees, 6 million YBP.
  • hairy
  • small brain
  • knuckle walker
  • climbed trees— savannah, not forest
  • squat feeder
  • tool user and maker
  • use of nut-cracking or bashing stone tools (persisted in apes & humans)
  • fruit-eater, occasional hunter
  • local cultures, eg. tool and grooming habits

Tool use is not so unusual. Birds use thorns to pry insects out of bark, spiders use their webs, leaf-cutter ants (and some termites) have a form of compost agriculture. But tool manufacture and tool transport for future use is rare in the animal kingdom—only humans and apes? And it seems that only humans have been able to make cutting tools.

7,000,000 YBP

Sahelanthropus tchadensis, oldest known hominid?, walked upright, found in Chad in 2001, and dated to 7 million YBP (Science, 308:179, 2005);

common ancestor of humans and gorillas, 7 million YBP;

Eon, Era,
and Period


Cenozoic Era
Neogene (late Tertiary/ Quaternary Period
(23 - present)
relatively complete fossil of a tree-dwelling great ape found in Spain, showing a muzzleless face and upright posture, 13 million YBP (Science, 306:1339, 2004)

common ancestor of human and orangutan, 14 million YBP — Lufengpithecus, Oreopithecus, Sivapithecus (Ramapithecus), Dryopithecus, Ouranopithecus, Kenyapithecus in Africa or Asia?

global cooling and current Antarctic ice sheet begins to form, 14 million YBP (Science, 305:1766, 2004)

Australia and New Guinea drift close enough to Asia to allow the arrival of its first placental mammals (bats and rodents), 15 million YBP. (Dingos, a true dog, arived much later, probably in aboriginal human canoes.)

great apes (e.g. gorilla) appear, 17 million YBP

Our one-million-greats grandparents were small, tree-dwelling apes, and they gave rise to the gibbons, other apes, and humans, 18 million YBP

first grasses appear, ancestors of our cereal grains, 20 million YBP

Grand Canyon excavated by Colorado rivers between 17 and 6 million years ago, and maybe up to 55 million YBP (based on cooling history of rocks, study out of U. of Colorado)

Cenozoic Era
Palaeogene (early Tertiary) Period
(65 - 23)
Old-World Monkeys and hominoids (apes (pongids) and humans (hominids)) diverge, 25 - 30 million YBP

primates develop large brains, enhanced vision, finger and toe nails, and grasping hands and feet (Science, 298:1606, 2002)

diversification of bats, the only mammals capable of powered flight and use of echolocation to track prey: 18 extant and 6 extinct families known, and with 1,100 species known, the second largest order in the class Mammalia (rodents are first) (Science, 307:527, 2005)

Antarctica separates from South America, connecting Atlantic and Pacific and allowing polar currents that blocked warm tropical currents. Temperatures plunged, and forest gave way to ice cap, 40 million YBP

New-World Monkeys and other monkeys & hominoids diverge (our 3-million-greats grandparent) in Africa and later raft the short distance (at that time) to South America, 40 million YBP

dominance of land by mammals, birds, and insects, 50 million YBP; Age of Mammals

Ice core measurements show high carbon dioxide levels (1000 ppm or more; level is 380 ppm today), average temperature 10º higher, and sea levels about 50 meters higher than today, 50 million YBP

Cetaceans (whales) evolve from even-toed, ungulate land ancestor (currently most closely related to hippos), 54 million YBP. Many fossils about this age have been found of hippo-like terrestrial animals and, at the same time, long, streamlined-bodied, whale-like aquatic animals with legs and feet. The earliest of these spent part of their time on land. Later species were more and more aquatic and the legs increasingly vestigial.

During continental drift, India colides with Eurasia and lifts Tibetan Plateau to 5,000 meters, 50 million YBP; Mt. Everest reaches to 8,850 meters (29,035 feet).

Australia drifts far enough from Antarctica to isolate its marsupials from the world's placentals and allow great divergence, 55 million YBP.

During plate tectonics, Australia separated from Antarctica, 56 million YBP.

Tarsiers and other monkeys & hominoids diverge, maybe in North America, 58 million YBP

First bats appear, a tree-dwelling mammal with flight and echolocation, 60 million YBP

Lemurs and the rest of the primates diverge (our 7-million-greats grandparent), 63 million YBP

Building of present Rocky Mountains, NA still attached to Eurasia, SA split from Africa, Australia split from Antarctica, 65 million YBP

The small "shrew-like" mammals diversify into myriad modern forms, and once the dinosaurs disappeared, it happened fast, over about 5 million years.

Cretaceous Period
(145 - 65)
asteroid or comet impact near Yucatan Peninsula and major extinction — ~10% taxonomic families disappear, including dinosaurs, 65 million YBP

first primates — "tree-shrew-like" — 70 million YBP

During plate tectonics, New Zealand separated from Antarctica, 70 million YBP.

common ancestor of rodents, rabbits, and primates, 75 million YBP

The order Rodentia (rat, mouse, beaver, squirrel, gopher, porcupine, guinea pig …) has been strikingly successful. Over 40% (about 2000) of all mammal species are rodents, making them the largest mammalian order. It is even estimated that there are more individual rodents than all other mammals combined.

India separates from Madagascar and moves rapidly north, 75 million YBP

Flowering plants arise, 100 million YBP

The common ancestor of "Afrotheria"— elephants, manatees, aardvarks, extinct mastodons and mammoths … —and all the other placental mammals, shrew-like (our ~45-million-greats-grandparent) lived in Africa, 105 million YBP.

first snakes

As Gondwana broke up, the Atlantic Ocean first formed as a long, narrow strip. The last connection between the Old and New Worlds was a bridge between what is now West Africa and Brazil, 120 million YBP (bridge broken by 90 million YBP).

The common ancestor of the marsupials (ca. 270 extant species) and the placental mammals (ca. 4,500 extant species) (our 80-million-greats-grandparent) lived on the southern supercontinent of Gondwana (South America, Antarctica, Australia, Africa, and India) as it just begins to break apart, 140 million YBP.

Jurassic Period
(200 - 145)
First Archaeopteryx fossil discovered in 1861: carnivorous dinosaur skeleton but feathers and brain of bird, 147 million YBP (Science, 305:764, 2004)

North America began to separate from rest of Laurasia — Atlantic Ocean began to form (S America still attached to Africa); India, still attached to Madagascar, began to separate from Africa; 150 million YBP

The length of a day was only 22 hours (Earth's rotation has been slowing down due to Moon's gravitational tug and sloshing of tides.

first ants, evolved from wasps, 150 million YBP

dinosaurs abundant; first birds; building of Sierra Mountains of California, 175 million YBP

The monotremes, marsupials, and placental mammals diverge, 180 million YBP. This early mammal was something like a modern shrew.

One theory has it that the early mammals diverged into just two groups, the australosphenidans in Gondwana and the boreosphenidans in Laurasia, and that the sole survivors among the australosphenidans are the duckbilled platypus and two genera of echidna—the monotremes, confined to Australia, New Guinea, and Tasmania. All other mammals, including the marsupials have descended from the boreosphenidans.

The monotremes have a cloaca, like reptiles and birds (monotreme means single hole in Greek), and they lay eggs with a leathery shell, like reptiles. Of course, they have more mammalian characters: hair, milk, the three bones of the middle ear (in reptiles, these bones are part of the lower jaw.)

first lizards

Mesozoic Era
Triassic Period
(251 - 200)
major extinction — ~10% taxonomic families disappear

Continental drift separates Pangaea into two parts, Laurasia & Gondwana — climate very warm — 200 million YBP

Earth's continents connected in one supercontinent called Pangaea, 225 million YBP

Age of Reptiles

Permian Period
(299 -251)
millennia-long volcanic eruptions and/or monster meteorite or comet and greatest of all mass-extinctions — 95% of all species extinct — 250 million YBP

coniferous forests

building of ancestral Appalachian Mountains

Pennsylvanian Period
(320 - 299)
major extinction — ~50% taxonomic families disappear

Building of ancestral Rocky Mts., 300 million YBP. These were eroded completely and the area was repeatedly below sea level over the next 200 million years.

The mammals and the sauropsids (reptiles and birds) diverge, 310 million YBP. This lizard-like animal would have been our 170-million-greats-grandparent. Most closely related to the mammals are the turtles and tortoises. More distant are the lizards and snakes, and a second natural group containing the dinosaurs, crocodiles, and birds.

first reptiles

coal swamps

Mississippian Period
(359 - 320)
Age of Amphibians, 310 million YBP;

The amniotes (mammals, reptiles, and birds) diverge from the amphibians about 340 million YBP. This walking-fish or salamander-like ancestor gave rise to all present-day tetrapods, including all land vertebrates. The group of fish that began to develop legs were the lobe-finned fish (today represented by the lungfish and the coelacanths, and the earliest legs seem not to have been used for support on land but to aid in locomotion on shallow pond bottoms.

Fern forests

Land snails

Devonian Period
(416 - 359)
major extinction — ~20% taxonomic families disappear

first amphibians — 365 million YBP

fossil Tiktaalik found, four-foot fish with a flexible neck and wrist and finger bones in its fins — 385 million YBP

Age of Fishes, cartilaginous and bony

Silurian Period
(444 - 416)
The common ancestor of the lobe-finned fish and tetrapods, on the one hand, and the lungfish, on the other, lived about 417 million YBP. This was our 185-million-greats-grandparent.

The common ancestor of the lobe-finned fish and tetrapods and the coelacanths lived about 425 million YPB.

Plants colonizing the land surface.

First insects — If number of described species (~ one million) or number of known families (over 1200) is a measure of success, then this is the most successful group of all time. (Of the ~1.7 million species ever described, 9,000 are birds and 5,000 are mammals.)

The common ancestor of the tetrapods and the ray-finned fish lived about 440 million YBP. Eventually, among the vertebrates, the one group would dominate land and the other water. There are some 23,500 species of ray-finned fish today. One of the important anatomical characters of these fish was the lung. Most modern fish have taken this structure and turned it into a swim bladder, a flotation device. Of course, the land vertebrates have greatly improved the sac as a breathing device.

Ordovician Period
(488 - 444)
major extinction -- ~20% taxonomic families disappear

The common ancestor of the bony vertebrates and the sharks, rays, and other cartilaginous fish (chondrichthyans) lived about 460 million YBP. We shouldn't think of the cartilaginous skeleton as primative, as some "bony" fish have highly cartilaginous skeletons, as did the probable ancestors of the sharks. Without a lung or swim bladder, sharks must swim and use their fins to rise in the water column, or they rely on an oily liver for floatation. This ancestor (our our 200-million-greats-grandparent) was the first to have a hinged lower jaw, formed from some of the bones that earlier simply supported the gills and gill slits.

earliest vascular plant fossils, 460 million YBP

crustaceans and molluscs abundant

Phanerozoic Eon
Paleozoic Era
Cambrian Period
(542 - 488)
Our day averaged 22 hours long instead of 24. Tidal forces from the moon have slowed Earth's rotation this much.

first land animals (arthropods), plants, and fungi, 500 million YBP

The common ancestor of the jawed vertebrates and the jawless, limbless fish lived about 530 million YBP. This ancestor was the first vertebrate, a 3 cm. fish (Science, 305:1893, 2004) and was approximately our our 240-million-greats-grandparent. The vertebrate skeleton of bone and cartilage gave muscles something firm to attach to and gave much more precise control over body movement.

first Chordates

beginning of Cambrian animal diversification, 542 million YBP;

    Ediacaran Period
    (600 - 542)

    The common ancestor of the vertebrates and the few other members of the phylum Chordata, the amphioxus, lived about 560 million YBP (Every modern animal phylum is now in existence.) This animal had the four defining characteristics of our phylum:

    • the notochord, the beginnings of an internal skeleton,
    • a dorsal, hollow nerve cord,
    • gill slits, used primarily for filter-feeding (gills for breathing came later), and
    • a post-anal tail.

    The common ancestor of the chordates and the Echinodermata (e.g., starfish) lived about 570 million YBP. The ancestor was probably worm-like. Today, this group is characterized by a biradial, rather than bilateral, body shape, a radial nervous system, no head or tail, and hydraulic tube feet for locomotion, using pumped sea water. As physically strange as the echinoderms are, they are genetically close to us. Fewer than 4% of all animal species are closer relatives to us than starfish are.

    earliest complex macroscopic organisms—no skeletal hard parts (Ediacaran fossil embryos, burrows, and trails: cnidaria & bilateria?), 575 million YBP

    The common ancestor of our subkingdom, the Deuterostomia, and most of the rest of the Animal Kingdom, the Protostomia, lived about 590 million YBP. This point represents a deep division in our family tree. At the present, there are about 60,000 described deuterostome species and over a million described protostomes (e.g., insects, molluscs, worms). One difference lies in how the very early embryo forms. When an egg is fertilized by a sperm, that zygote first divides to form a solid ball of cells, those cells move to form a hollow interior and a wall one cell thick, one side of this ball indents to form a cup and then a hollow ball with a wall two cells thick and an opening to the outside, and in subsequent development, that opening becomes either the anus of the digestive tract (deuterostome means mouth second) or the mouth (protostome means mouth first). The main nerve cord in a protostome is ventral to the digestive tract, and the heart is dorsal.

    fossil lichen (fungi/algae symbiosis), 600 million YBP (Science, 308:1017, 2005)

    Proterozoic Eon
    Neoproterozoic Era
    (1000 to 600 MYA)
    The common ancestor of the coelomate animals (those with a coelom or body cavity) and the acoelomate flatworms lived about 630 million YBP. A body cavity differs from a digestive cavity in that it is totally enclosed. A digestive cavity opens to the environment by way of the mouth (and usually the anus). A body cavity is a hollow interior that provides room in which active organs, such as hearts and lungs, may move and work. This ancestor had no body cavity. Its internal organs were embedded in solid tissue called parenchyma. This ancestor also lacked an anus. Food came into its digestive cavity through a mouth, and undigestible waste was ejected through the same opening. This structure and life style is primitive, but this was the first bilaterally symmetrical animal. It was also the first Triploblast—it formed its body from three embryonic tissue layers: ectoderm, mesoderm, and endoderm. Over 300 species of modern acoelomate flatworms have been described.

    Lots of glaciation from pole to pole, 635 million YBP (Science, 308:787, 2005) 

    The comon ancestor of the Bilateria and the Cnidarians (radially symmetrical animals) lived maybe 680 million YBP. The Cnidarians do not have bilateral symmetry. Instead of an elongated body shape, they have a round or circular organization. There is no head or tail, left or right. They have no long-distance sense organs, no concentrations of nerve tissue into a brain, ganglia, or nerves. Their nervous system is a diffuse network. There is no body cavity. Their digestive cavity is usually a simple sac with one opening to the outside, a mouth/anus. Their body structure arises from only two embryonic tissue layers: ectoderm and endoderm; there is no mesoderm. They do have a cnidocyte, a cell type that incorporates a hair-trigger poison harpoon for prey capture and defense. No other animal group has this unique feature. There are about 9,000 described species of modern cnidarians (jellyfish, corals, sea anemones) and somewhat more distantly related comb jellies.

    first tracheophytes (vascular plants), 700 million YBP

    The common ancestor of the Eumetazoa (animals with specialized tissues, such as nerve and muscle) and the sponges lived maybe 800 million YBP. This ancestor was multicellular, and it did have cells of different types, but these cells didn't organize themselves into specialized tissues. There is no nerve or muscle tissue and no general body movement. The sponges do have a choanocyte, a cell type that has a waving flagellum surrounded by a deep collar. These cells create a current of water that passes through pores in the body wall and from which food particles are filtered out. There are about 10,000 described species of modern sponges.

    fossil fungi dated at 850 million YBP

    The common ancestor of the Metazoa (multicellular animals) and the Choanoflagellates lived maybe 1 billion YBP. This ancestor was colonial or unicellular. Each cell was very like the chanocyte of the sponges, with a flagellum and a filtering collar. There are about 120 described species of modern choanoflagellates.


    Proterozoic Eon
    Mesoproterozoic Era
    (1.6 to 1.0 BYA)
    The common ancestor of the animals and the fungi lived maybe 1.1 billion YBP. The fungi are multicellular and heterotrophic, like animals, but their anatomy is exotic. The cells of most fungi are arranged into linear strands, called hyphae, which are connected into ever-branching networks, called mycelia. A mycelium grows and penetrates through a food source—a fallen log, a live plant or animal, or the soil itself. Food is digested outside the fungal cells, and nutrients are then absorbed. Mushrooms, toadstools, and brackets are reproductive structures produced by a mycelium to release spores to the wind. The yeasts are single-celled. Lichens are symbiotic relationships between a fungus and an alga. There are about 69,000 species described of an estimated 1.5 million modern species in existence.

    origin of multicellular life, 1.2 billion YBP?

    The common ancestor of the multicellular heterotrophs and the amoebozoans lived maybe 1.2 billion YBP. There are about 5,000 described species of modern amoebas and slime molds.

    The common ancestor of the eukaryotic heterotrophs and the plants lived maybe 1.3 billion YBP. Modern descendents include the red algae, green algae, mosses, ferns, conifers, and flowering plants, about 35,000 described species in all.

    The common ancestor of the animals, fungi, and plants and the brown algae (seaweed) and some other algae lived maybe 1.5 billion YBP.

    Proterozoic Eon
    Palaeoproterozoic Era
    (2.5 to 1.6 BYA)
    The common ancestor of the eukaryotes and the Archaea, or Archaebacteria, lived maybe 2 billion YBP. About the same time, we see the origin of the eukaryotic cell, symbiotic heterotrophic Eubacteria becoming mitochondria and autotrophic Eubacteria (cyanobacteria) becoming chloroplasts.

    oxygen levels reach 1 ppm, 2.4 billion YBP

    Archean Eon
    Palaeoarchaean Era
    (2.8 to 2.5 BYA)
    The cyanobacteria invent photosynthesis and begin introducing oxygen into the atmosphere by means of the oxidation of water, 2.7 billion YBP.
    Archean Eon
    Palaeoarchaean Era
    (3.2 to 2.8 BYA)

    Archean Eon
    Palaeoarchaean Era
    (3.6 to 3.2 BYA)
    oldest fossils, 3.5 billion YBP (Science 304:503, 2004)

    Archean Eon
    Eoarchaean or Hadean Era
    (4.6 to 3.6 BYA)
    oldest evidence of life, 3.8 billion YBP

    Outer planets disturb asteroid belt and cause bodies to crater Moon and inner planets, 3.9 billion YBP

    origin of life, kingdom Eubacteria, 4 billion YBP?

    Mars-sized object hits Earth and forms Moon.

    Earth formed, 4.6 billion YBP

    A cloud of gas and dust 15 billion miles in diameter began to condense. Most of it (99.9%) became our Sun. The rest coalesced by electorstatic forces into the planets.

    Stars begin to form about 400 million years after Big Bang. Elements larger than hydrogen, helium, and lithium appear.

    "The term 'Big Bang' implies some sort of explosion, which is not a wholly inappropriate analogy, except that the Big Bang was not an explosion in space, but an explosion of space. Similarly, the Big Bang was not an explosion in time, but an explosion of time. Both space and time were created at the moment of the Big Bang." (Singh, 2004)

    Big Bang, ~13.7 billion YBP, dated from microwave background radiation study, 2003 (a light poem). During this "bang" the matter of the universe expanded from the size of a marble to billions of light-years across in 10-35 seconds. The theory was first advanced in 1927 by Belgian astronomer, Georges Edward Lemaitre (1894 - 1966) and named "big bang" in 1948 by Russian-American physicist, George Gamow (1904 - 1968). It is estimated that there are about 400 billion stars in the Milky Way and 140 billion galaxies in the still-expanding universe. (If all the stars in the universe were the size of the head of a pin, they still would fill Miami's Orange Bowl to overflowing more than 3 billion times. — Bill Bryson, quoted by George F. Will) The universe is 23% dark matter, 73% dark energy, and only 4% ordinary matter (Singh, 2004).

    Some General References:

    Kimball's Biology Pages by John W. Kimball.

    1491, New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus by Charles C. Mann, Alfred A. Knopf, NY, 2005.

    Big Bang, the Origin of the Universe by Simon Singh, Fourth Estate, NY, 2004.

    The Ancestor's Tale by Richard Dawkins, Houghton Mifflin Co, 2004.

    Milestones of Science, AAAS, Washington, DC, 2004.

    The Adventure of English, the Biograph of a Language by Melvyn Bragg, Arcade Publ, NY, 2003.

    A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson, Broadway Books, NY, 2003.

    Language Visible by David Sacks, Broadway Books, NY, 2003;

    "Origins of Personal Computing," M.M. Waldrop, Scientific American, p 84-91, Dec, 2001.

    A History Of Great Inventions by James Dyson, Carroll & Graf Publ., NY, 2001.

    The Cambridge World History of Food, Kenneth F. Kiple and Kriemhild C. Ornelas, eds, Dambridge University Press, 2000.

    Biology, Neil A. Campbell et al, Benjamin Cummings, 1999.

    How Many People Can the Earth Support?, Joel E. Cohen, WW Norton & Co., 1995.

    A History of God, the 4000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, Karen Armstrong, Alfred A. Knopf, 1994.

    Asimov's Chronology of the World, Isaac Asimov, HarperCollins, 1991.

    The Narrative History of Union County South Carolina, Allan D. Charles, The Reprint Co., 1987.

    The Timetables of History, A Horizontal Linkage of People and Events, by Bernard Grun, Simon and Schuster, 1979.

    South Carolina, A Short History, 1520-1948, by David D. Wallace, USC Press, 1961.

    A Handbook To Literature, by William Flint Thrall & Addison Hibbard, revised by C. Hugh Holman, The Odyssey Press, NY, 1960.

    I trace my noble ancestry back
    to the first seed, the first cell
    that emerged reluctantly from the void.
    Harrison & Kooser, 2003
    It's nice to think that when
    we're fossils we'll all be in the same
    thin layer of rock.
    Harrison & Kooser, 2003


    Site or Web
    Dance Manual
    © Harold and Meredith Sears, Boulder, CO, mail@haroldsears.com. All rights reserved.