Earth timeline

Pink glow before sunrise along England's coast

We humans have only been around for a tiny fraction of the Earth's 4.6-billion-year history, but we have still managed to build up our knowledge of what happened so long ago.

This Earth timeline highlights some of the important events that have shaped our world. The pages in the timeline contain interesting video clips from BBC television series such as Earth: Power of the Planet, Horizon, How the Earth Made Us, and Bang Goes the Theory.

Another popular way of dividing up the Earth's history is through geological time periods. For example, the period 545-495 million years ago is known as the Cambrian. Visit the BBC Nature site to see these time periods and learn what life was like hundreds of millions of years ago.

Image: The sky glows pink just before sunrise along England's Jurassic Coast in Winspit, Dorset. About 185 million years of Earth's history is recorded in these rocks. (credit: Adam Burton/

Earth timeline

Ma = Millions of years ago