40 Awesome Facts From Earth’s Past That’ll Blow You Away

21Charcoal

300 million years ago, towards the end of the Carboniferous period, Earth saw oxygen levels as high as 35% (vs 21% today). Lightning was far more damaging back then. This period is associated with the formation of large deposits of charcoal, which have been linked to massive wildfires. Not only was the oxygen concentration at a record high, but there were also huge deposits of wood that could serve as fuel. Due to the absence of organisms to break down wood, during this time tens of millions of years’ worth of forests piled up, which became the coal we use today.


22Warm Antarctica

The earth is currently not at its historical warmest. In Antarctica, scientists recently found fossil fragments of 13 trees that are over 260 million years old, meaning that this forest was growing at the end of the Permian Period, before the first dinosaurs. At that time, Antarctica was still at the South Pole. Again 53 million years ago, Antarctica was so warm that palm trees thrived along its shores. During these global hothouse extremes, there were no polar ice caps. Due to the effects of melted glacial ice and ocean floor configurations, there were times when the sea level was up to 300 meters higher than it is now, creating massive interior seaways in most continental areas.


23Carnian Pluvial Event

Around 234 million years ago, Earth's climate changed due to increased CO2 production possibly from increased volcanic activity caused by the separation of Pangea. This led to an increase of global temperatures, and humidity, which in turn meant more rainfall in this hot dry world and it kept raining for over 2 million years. So much rain caused complete extinction of organisms that were eventually replaced by the dinosaurs in the Jurassic Period. This wet period of the earth is known as the Carnian Pluvial Event.


24Solar Orbit

It takes the Earth (and the Sun) 226 million years to orbit around the Milky Way Galaxy. This means that Earth has orbited around our galaxy about 20 times since the planet formed 4.5 billion years ago. This means the earth will turn 21 sometime in the next 100 million years or so and will die at roughly 53 by a house fire (swallowed by the sun).


25Lost Continent

Scientists have discovered the earth’s lost 8th continent. Plate tectonics separated this Greenland sized continent from North Africa more than 200 million years ago. Most of this continent was situated underwater and formed shallow, tropical seas in which sediment deposited, for example in large coral reefs. Without realizing it, vast numbers of tourists spend their holiday each year on this lost continent which is presently buried under Southern Europe and has been named Greater Adria.


26Flowering Plants

Newly discovered fossils show that moths and butterflies have been on the planet for at least 200 million years whereas flowering plants came along around 130 million years ago. So butterflies survived without flowers for 70 million years.


27Asteroid Impact

If the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs (66 million years ago) arrived just 30 seconds later, it would have landed in deep ocean water which would have absorbed much of the force of the impact. The resulting extinction would have been less severe, many dinosaur species would have survived, and humans would not exist today.


28Farming

After the age of the dinosaurs came to an end some 65 million years ago, a ‘tribe’ of ants known to scientists as the Attini decided to give up life as hunter-gatherers and become farmers instead. The ants, native to South America, began farming fungus that grew on decomposing wood. This allowed ant colonies to increase in size until 15 million years ago. Humans only came up with the idea of agriculture 10,000 years ago.


29Grasses

The earliest form of grasses didn't exist until 60 and 55 million years ago, towards the end of the major extinction events that ended the age of dinosaurs and the Cretaceous period. So most likely dinosaurs had to eat leaves instead of grass because common grass hadn’t evolved yet.


30Whales

Whales evolved from wolf sized land animals that roamed the planet around 50 million years ago. Presently, there actually are some wolfs on Vancouver Island in Canada that might be starting a similar evolution. They hunt fish for a majority of their food, swim most of the day, and even have developed webbing between their toes.

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