We all know that Earth is old, but it’s hard to put into perspective just how old it is.
After all, what does 4.5 billion years really mean? How do you even comprehend that amount of time with our short-lived human brains?
Well, Business Insider has done a pretty incredible job of it in this 3-minute animation, by displaying the timeline of Earth if time was the distance from Los Angeles to New York. And, oh boy, our world-view will never be the same.
We start our journey in Los Angeles, back when Earth first formed 4.54 billion years ago. But we don’t get very far on our road trip through time and space before the Moon shows up after Earth is hit by a planetary body.
About halfway across the top of Arizona, the world’s largest rock forms 3.95 billion years ago, and then a few miles down the road – 3.8 billion years ago – the first evidence of life shows up, in the form of replicating molecules.
But it’s not until Kansas, 2.7 billion years ago, when oxygen-producing cyanobacteria first emerge, and then 200 million years later that significant amounts of oxygen build up in Earth’s atmosphere.
And then, believe it or not, it’s not until Pennsylvania – halfway across the country – that multicellular organisms evolve, just 600 million years ago.
A lot happens in Pennsylvania, like plants colonising the land and amphibians evolving. And by the time dinosaurs become extinct we’re already in New York State.
So where do humans fit in?
Well we’ll let you watch the video below to find that out, and let’s just say that it will blow your freaking mind. Especially when you see how much we’ve done in just 5.6 feet (1.7 metres) of time.
The Earth is really, really old. Over four and a half billion years old, in fact. How do we begin to comprehend a number that large? It helps to put it on a more fathomable scale. Watch to see where Earth’s major events would fall on a timeline stretching across the US.