• A sculpture of an ancient mollusk.

    "Movie Monster" Re-Created

    The Spiky Creature Lived About 390 Million Years Ago

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Humans have walked the Earth for 190,000 years, a mere blip in Earth's 4.5-billion-year history. Learn more about the planet's tumultuous past.

More About the Prehistoric World

  • <p>Image: Artwork of flying pterosaurs.</p>

    Prehistoric Time Line

    National Geographic's interactive time line takes you on a 4.5-billion-year-old trip through Earth's history⎯from its Precambrian birth to the birth of Homo sapiens some 190,000 years ago.

  • <p>Photo: Fossil of reptile wing</p>

    Pterosaurs—Lords of the Ancient Skies

    The largest animals that ever flew, pterosaurs ruled the Mesozoic skies for 150 million years, flapping and soaring long before the first bird ruffled a single feather.

  • <p>Photo: Woman digging up dinosaur bones</p>

    Fossil Wars

    In the international fossil trade, even priceless specimens have a price tag. Ancient bones can end up in a movie star's mansion as easily as in a museum.

  • <p>Image: Dinosaur extinction</p>

    Mass Extinctions

    More than 90 percent of all organisms that have ever lived on Earth are extinct. Learn how millions of creatures can disappear in a geological blink of an eye—and see what might be next.

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