Evolution of Life Timeline




65.5 Ma
to 10ka

The Cretaceous–Tertiary extinction event eradicates about half of all animal species, including mosasaurs, pterosaurs, plesiosaurs, ammonites, belemnites, rudist and inoceramid bivalves, most planktic foraminifers, and all of the dinosaurs excluding their descendants the birds.

 65 Ma

Rapid dominance of conifers and ginkgos in high latitudes, along with mammals becoming the dominant species. First psammobiid bivalves. Rapid diversification in ants.

63 Ma

Evolution of the creodonts, an important group of carnivorous mammals.

60 Ma

Diversification of large, flightless birds. Earliest true primates, along with the first semelid bivalves, edentates, carnivorous and lipotyphlan mammals, and owls. The ancestors of the carnivorous mammals (miacids) were alive.

56 Ma

Gastornis, a large, flightless bird appears in the fossil record, becoming an apex predator at the time.

55 Ma

Modern bird groups diversify (first song birds, parrots, loons, swifts, woodpeckers), first whale (Himalayacetus), earliest rodents, lagomorphs, armadillos, appearance of sirenians, proboscideans, perissodactyl and artiodactyl mammals in the fossil record. Angiosperms diversify. The ancestor (according to theory) of the species in Carcharodon, the early mako shark Isurus hastalis, is alive.

52 Ma

First bats appear (Onychonycteris).

50 Ma

Peak diversity of dinoflagellates and nanofossils, increase in diversity of anomalodesmatan and heteroconch bivalves, brontotheres, tapirs, rhinoceroses, and camels appear in the fossil record, diversification of primates.

40 Ma

Modern type butterflies and moths appear. Extinction of Gastornis.Basilosaurus, one of the first of the giant whales, appeared in the fossil record.

37 Ma

First Nimravid carnivores (“False Saber-toothed Cats”) – these species are unrelated to modern-type felines

35 Ma

Grasses evolve from among the angiosperms; grasslands begin to expand. Slight increase in diversity of cold-tolerant ostracods and foraminifers, along with major extinctions of gastropods, reptiles, and amphibians. Many modern mammal groups begin to appear: first glyptodonts, ground sloths, dogs, peccaries, and the first eagles and hawks. Diversity in toothed and baleen whales.

33 Ma

Evolution of the thylacinid marsupials (Badjcinus).

30 Ma

First balanids and eucalypts, extinction of embrithopod and brontothere mammals, earliest pigs and cats.

28 Ma

Paraceratherium appears in the fossil record, the largest terrestrial mammal that ever lived.

25 Ma

First deer.

20 Ma

First giraffes and giant anteaters, increase in bird diversity.

15 Ma

Mammut appears in the fossil record, first bovids and kangaroos, diversity in Australian megafauna.

10 Ma

Grasslands and savannas are established, diversity in insects, especially ants and termites, horses increase in body size and develop high-crowned teeth, major diversification in grassland mammals and snakes.

6.5 Ma

First hominin (Sahelanthropus).

6 Ma

Australopithecines diversify (OrrorinArdipithecus)

5 Ma

First tree sloths and hippopotami, diversification of grazing herbivores, large carnivorous mammals, burrowing rodents, kangaroos, birds, and small carnivores, vultures increase in size, decrease in the number of perissodactyl mammals. Extinction of Nimravid carnivores

4.8 Ma

Mammoths appear in the fossil record.

4 Ma

Evolution of AustralopithecusStupendemys appears in the fossil record as the largest freshwater turtle.

3 Ma

The Great American Interchange, where various land and freshwater faunas migrated between North and South America. Armadillos, opossums, hummingbirds, and vampire bats traveled to North America while horses, tapirs, saber-toothed cats, and deer entered South America. The first short-faced bears (Arctodus) appear.

2.7 Ma

Evolution of Paranthropus

2.5 Ma

The earliest species of Smilodon evolve

2 Ma

First members of the genus Homo appear in the fossil record. Diversification of conifers in high latitudes. The eventual ancestor of cattle,Bos primigenius evolves in India

1.7 Ma

Extinction of australopithecines.

1.2 Ma

Evolution of Homo antecessor. The last members of Paranthropus die out.

600 ka

Evolution of Homo heidelbergensis

350 ka

Evolution of Neanderthals

300 ka

Gigantopithecus, a giant relative of the orangutan dies out from Asia

200 ka

Anatomically modern humans appear in Africa. Around 50,000 years before present they start colonising the other continents, replacing the Neanderthals in Europe and other hominins in Asia.

40 ka

The last of the giant monitor lizards (Megalania) die out

30 ka

Extinction of Neanderthals

15 ka

The last Woolly rhinoceros (Coelodonta) are believed to have gone extinct

11 ka

The giant short-faced bears (Arctodus) vanish from North America, with the last Giant Ground Sloths dying out. All Equidae become extinct in North America

10ka to



                    HOLOCENE PERIOD


The Holocene Epoch starts 10,000 years ago after the Late Glacial Maximum. The last mainland species of Woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) die out, as does the last Smilodon species

6 ka

Small populations of American Mastodon die off in places like Utah and Michigan

4500 ya

The last members of a dwarf race of Woolly Mammoths vanish from Wrangel Island near Alaska

383 ya

The last wild Aurochs die out

37 ya

The Thylacine goes extinct in a Tasmanian zoo, the last member of the family Thylacinidae