A Concise History of the Earth.

February 26th, 2014

-The Hadean Eon
The Earth forms, but its distractible parents forget to note the date of birth. This will lead to many years of bitterness and more missed birthdays than are humanly imaginable.
Rock status: runny, excitable, prone to suddenly exploding.

-The Archaen Eon
The Earth grows the hell up and starts trying to apply itself so it can make something later on in life. It tries its hand at biology and makes some small prokaryotic projects, but it’s embarrassed by their lack of a proper nucleus and hides them under its enormous cratonic bed. Later it flushes everything with water and tries to make a fresh start of it for the fossil records.
Rock status: growing up, settling down, forming tectonic plates, wearing ties in public.

-The Proterozoic Eon
Through incredible amounts of both luck and time, life appears in the fossil record in its most boring, least-pronounceable forms. It promptly suffers stage fright and attempts to hide for the next half-billion years until helpful and outgoing cyanobacteria supply sufficient oxygen for some of the rest to get over themselves and try this new multicellular thing. They immediately graze cyanobacteria to near-extinction.
Rock status: forming continents, breaking up continents, combining, dividing, combining, dividing, suffering hysterical panic attacks in the mirror while scrutinizing hairlines.

-The Phanerozoic Eon
The last-ninth of Earth’s history, but also the only bits most people care about. The planet is overcome with an infestation of crawling, swimming, splashing, leaping, Skyping, narcissistic little bastards that come and go as breezily as a twister in an air-conditioned wind farm. Thankfully nearly all of them are dead or dying; unfortunately they started out that way and haven’t managed to improve since.
Rock status: combining, dividing, combining, dividing, sobbing into breakfast whiskey, combining, dividing, being split into little chips and used to murder mammoths, being stuffed into a tiny intricate mechanism and used to light cigarettes.

–The Paleozoic Era.
Earth’s lifeforms go through a teething period, attempting in rapid succession to consume rocks, volatile chemicals, sunlight, and each other. The lattermost method looks the coolest, so it gets the most attention, leaving its more productive, risk-averse siblings to suffer the fate of living relatively safe and prosperous lives while it continually attempts to choke itself into submission.
—The Cambrian Period: Named for its delicious, creamy, surface-ripened geological formations, the Cambrian saw the oceans of the world go from quiet bacterial vats to bustling, thriving basins of absolutely horrifying multicellular life. A randomly-selected handful from any given sponge-reef would make an arachnophobic shit themselves through their shoes. It was that bad. Thankfully, many of these diverse and appalling organisms managed to destroy the lush microbial mats that dotted the seafloor through burrowing, thus mangling their ecosystems beyond the bounds of recovery and putting themselves out of business and also life.
Life status: trilobites trilobites trilobites trilobites trilobites trilobites trilobites.
—The Ordovician Period: Hideous little things like crabs crossed with ticks crossed with scorpions go on the downswing and are supplemented with giant evil squids adorned with shells. Fish attempt to make themselves known, get eaten, and set to work to developing jaws so they can eat people back. Some of them will ditch bones in a fit of pique and become sharks.
Life status: largely boneless, scuttling, crunchy with a soft interior. Also largely trilobites.
—The Silurian Period: Life makes a break for the land in a desperate attempt to avoid touching anything in the ocean any longer than necessary, is immediately followed by scorpions, centipedes, millipedes. There is no hope and no god. Sea scorpions and leeches appear in an eager attempt to one-up this.
Life status: worse than death.
—The Devonian Period: The placoderm bony fish perfect the jaw and begin to use it on absolutely everything, tearing a hole through the Devonian ecosystem you could wedge a bus through. Sharks complain about this and are summarily eaten in vast numbers, leading to the origin of the superorder’s famed grouchiness. Some molluscs see the way the wind is blowing and shove themselves into tiny armoured shells, becoming ammonites and serving as inspiration for the development of the modern smartcar. In a surprise upset every single placoderm perishes without dignity at the Devonian’s end, leaving us only with some of the most utterly menacing giant bony skulls known to science and a latent suspicion of seafood.
Life status: ambitious, perfidious, amphibious.
—The Carboniferous Period: Amphibians snuck onto land when nobody was looking and are now running around the confused arthopods doing victory laps and eating them alive. Low sea levels and the newfangled fad of ‘bark’ lead to enormous swamps full of wood that is too sturdy and stubborn to rot properly, instead choosing to be painfully buried and macerated into coal over hundred of billions of years for the purposes of granting future species an opportunity at assisted suicide. Trilobites are in the shitter but still kicking up a stink. Reptiles show up and cannot possibly pose any sort of change in the status quo.
Life status: founding the backbone of Kentucky’s economy.
—The Permian Period: Swamps everywhere dry up and reptiles and mammal-like reptiles eat everyone else’s lunch, starting with the amphibians’ and laughing all the way to the bank and back and then back to the bank again and back again and then one more time just because the laughing really isn’t getting old yet. Then in a surprise upset a sudden and horrific incident annihilates nearly every living thing on earth, including the last of the trilobites, and everyone pauses for thirty million years to reload and catch their breath a little.
Life status: whacked.

–The Mesozoic Era. Life’s mid-life crisis. A series of desperate attempts at embracing bigger as better lead to a second bout of total disaster and a relapse into alcoholic despair. But the weather is really nice.
—The Triassic Period: Icthyosaurs and pterosaurs appear because reptiles have decided that merely dominating freshwater and the land was not enough. Mammal-like reptiles get back on their feet and start wobbling around making funny faces at the other reptiles and taking swings. While they’re busy, dinosaurs and mammals appear and begin to slowly and systematically shove their feet in every doorcrack. Before anyone can do anything about this, something murders almost everyone again.
Life status: blue-balled.
—The Jurassic Period: Dinosaurs take over everything of any importance on land and proceed to live high on the hog despite the nonexistence of hogs because that is just the sort of organisms they were. The largest land animals ever to exist are commissioned during this period and its successor, the largest land carnivores follow suit, violence is huge, blood is the new red, and the film rights are given to some bearded guy who looked like he knew what he was doing.
Life status: humungous.
—The Cretaceous Period: The photogenicity of life reaches its apex, along with its taste in excellent names. Every other thing on the planet is either over forty feet long, has teeth like bananas, a brain like a banana, or most frequently all three. Pride of place goes to Tyrannosaurus rex, who possessed an excellent name, a photogenic smile, a forty-foot-plus frame, a brain like a really big banana, and teeth like serrated bananas, all in a time well before bananas even existed. There is simply not that kind of get up and go nowadays and there will not be again because during this particular period something the size of Manhattan slammed into the Yucatan and demolished nearly all of the things on Earth that were considered interesting.
Life status: suddenly much smaller.

–The Cenozoic Era. Life’s comeback tour, following the realization that if all things are fleeting then so is failure. Its shirt is back on, its hair has been trimmed, its old pants fit again, and the gig tonight is looking packed. It’s got some new tricks it wants to try, like seeing what happens if it tries making stuff really smart for a change. It’s got a good feeling about this.
—The Palaeogene Period: Suddenly free from being accidentally stepped on for the first time in two hundred million years, mammals make a mad dash for every single habitat available, trying and somehow succeeding at occupying them all at once –carnivores, herbivores, omnivores, large, small, medium, breadbox-sized, and more. Some of them are in such a hurry that they jump into the ocean and swipe several old marine reptile niches right from out of the faces of sharks. The sharks respond to this by eating them, because the nice thing about being a shark is that you may not have many solutions to your problems but they tend to work pretty well.
Life status: topsy-turvy.
—The Neogene Period: The world, now once again full of stuff, continues to swirl it around like a man with a mouthful of Listerine. Seasonality reaches the point where regular snowfalls are inflicted upon mammals, who sort of lucked out in already having the concept of ‘fur’ down pat two hundred million years earlier. Speaking of which, some silly chucklefucks in Africa got rid of theirs and started running around bolt-upright buck-naked and hurting their backs.
Life status: in a dangerous time.
—The Quaternary Period: Don’t ask, okay?

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