Geological time periods

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Geological Time scale

The history of the earth is divided into time periods according to geological and paleontological evidence. The following table illustrates how the time periods are divided and the names given to them.

The names for each time period were taken from The International Commission on Stratigraphy (ICS) who are responsible for a standard, globally applicable stratigraphic scale

Eon Era Period/Age Epoch Time
(millions of
years ago)
PhanerozoicCenozoicNeogeneHolocenePresent daymodern humans evolve
Pleistocene11,500 years agolarge mammal extinction
Pilocene1.81 mya 
Miocene5.33 mya 
PaleogeneOligocene23.03 mya 
Eocene33.9 myaappearance of modern mammals
Paleocene55.8 mya 
MesozoicCretaceousUpper65.5 myadinosaurs reach peak then become extinct
Lower99.6 mya 
JurassicUpper145.5 myafirst birds and marsupial mammals
Middle161.2 mya 
Lower175.6 mya 
TriassicUpper199.6 myafirst dinosaurs
Middle228 mya 
Lower245 mya 
PaleozoicPermianLopingian251 myaPermian extinction loss of 95% of life
Guadalupianr260.4 mya 
Cisuralian270.6 mya 
CarboniferousPennsylvanian299 myafirst reptiles, insects abound
Mississippian318.1 myafirst land vertebrates
DevonianUpper359.2 myafirst amphibians, & seed bearing plants
Middle385.3 mya 
Lower397.5 mya 
SilurianPridoli416 myafirst jawed fish
Ludlow418.7 mya 
Wenlock422.9 mya 
Llandovery428.2 mya 
OrdovicianUpper443.7 myaabundant invertebrates, first land plants
Middle460.9 mya 
Lower471.8 mya 
CambrianFurongian488.3 myaCambrian explosion - major diversification of life
Middle501 mya 
Lower513 mya 
collective term
for Archean &
542 myafirst multi-celled organism
Mesoproterozoic1000 mya 
Paleoproterozoic1600 myafirst complex single celled organism
ArcheanNeoarchean2500 mya 
Mesoarcheon2800 mya 
Paleoarchean3200 mya 
Eoarchean3600 myafirst simple single cell organisms
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