Drumming the Eons

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This is a ritual we celebrate every year on the Summer Solstice, starting at Sol 2012, to help experience the history of life on Earth by compressing the planet's lifespan to date into 18 minutes and 45 seconds. We use drums to represent the passage of millions of years, one million per drumbeat. One fact made clear by this experience is the dramatic acceleration of events as we get closer to the present, although this may be partly an artifact of the difficulty of studying the extremely deep past.

Event Approx. date Number of drumbeats Time
Beginning of Late Heavy Bombardment 4.1 billion years ago 400 1 min 40 sec
Origin of life 3.8 billion years ago 700 2 min 55 sec
First photosynthetic organisms 3.5 billion years ago 1000 4 min 10 sec
First cyanobacteria 3 billion years ago 1500 6 min 15 sec
Oxygenation of the air 2.4 billion years ago 2100 8 min 45 sec
First eukaryotes 2 billion years ago 2500 10 min 25 sec
Early proto-fungi 1.43 billion years ago 3070 12 min 47 sec
Origin of sex, first multicellular organisms 1.2 billion years ago 3300 13 min 45 sec
Beginning of Cryogenian period 850 million years ago 3650 15 min 12 sec
End of Cryogenian 630 million years ago 3870 16 min 7 sec
Avalon explosion (Ediacaran biota) 575 million years ago 3925 16 min 21 sec
Cambrian explosion 530 million years ago 3970 16 min 32 sec
First vertebrates 485 million years ago 4015 16 min 44 sec
Arthropods appear on land 450 million years ago 4050 16 min 52 sec
First land plants 434 million years ago 4066 16 min 56 sec
First insects 400 million years ago 4100 17 min 5 sec
First amphibians 368 million years ago 4132 17 min 13 sec
First reptiles 320 million years ago 4180 17 min 25 sec
End-Permian extinction event 252 million years ago 4248 17 min 42 sec
First dinosaurs 230 million years ago 4270 17 min 47 sec
First mammals 210 million years ago 4290 17 min 52 sec
Early birds 150 million years ago 4350 18 min 7 sec
Extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago 4435 18 min 29 sec
Earliest hominids/apes 14 million years ago 4486 18 min 41 sec
Appearance of Australopithecus 4 million years ago 4496 18 min 44 sec
First humans 200 thousand years ago 4500 18 min 45 sec
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