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Nearly all branches of natural science have contributed to understanding of the main events of Earth's past, characterized by constant geological change and biological evolution.The geological time scale (GTS), as defined by international convention, depicts the large spans of time from the beginning of the Earth to the present, and its divisions chronicle some definitive events of Earth history.Pangaea forms and later dissolves into Laurasia and Gondwana.Gradually, life expands to land and all familiar forms of plants, animals and fungi begin appearing, including annelids, insects and reptiles.Photosynthetic organisms appeared between 3.2 and 2.4 billion years ago and began enriching the atmosphere with oxygen.Life remained mostly small and microscopic until about 580 million years ago, when complex multicellular life arose, developed over time, and culminated in the Cambrian Explosion about 541 million years ago.Several mass extinctions occur, among which birds, the descendants of dinosaurs, and more recently mammals emerge.

Bacteria begin producing oxygen, shaping the third and current of Earth's atmospheres.The earliest undisputed evidence of life on Earth dates at least from 3.5 billion years ago, during the Eoarchean Era, after a geological crust started to solidify following the earlier molten Hadean Eon.There are microbial mat fossils such as stromatolites found in 3.48 billion-year-old sandstone discovered in Western Australia.The following Archean and Proterozoic eons produced the beginnings of life on Earth and its earliest evolution.The succeeding eon is the Phanerozoic, divided into three eras: the Palaeozoic, an era of arthropods, fishes, and the first life on land; the Mesozoic, which spanned the rise, reign, and climactic extinction of the non-avian dinosaurs; and the Cenozoic, which saw the rise of mammals.

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