Weekend Wandering 5 – The 25 Biggest Turning Points in Earth’s History

BBC25I know – it sounds like another “Big History” website, and it is, but in a simpler format. BBC Earth takes us through the big events in a visually-pleasing, easy-to-navigate way with simple (perhaps a bit simplistic) text and animations.

I find the page provides a great overview of Earth history with its strongest quality being that it is not anthropocentric as so many “Earth history” websites are. Humans are left to the very end; let’s face it, we are but a blip in Earth’s history. (Perhaps that’s the next phase of development: 25 Biggest Turning Points in Human History over on BBC History.) Even better, from an Earth science and biology perspective, is how we can learn about each successive stage as Earth as we know it unfolds. I found it easier to make mental connections between events because each was given as an overview and I didn’t get lost in the details. It is especially helpful to students new to Earth science.

Additionally, although the information is presented linearly (of course it would be), one can use the navigation buttons to the right to skip ahead and back as needed. One improvement would be to add a “hover” title or tag to each button so we know where we’re going.

One highlight for me was learning about C4 photosynthesis. I probably learned about it in botany 30+ years ago, but the short article sparked my interest and caused me to search for more information about it.

So, in one sense, where I would like to see this site develop further is in providing “places to go” to answer the myriad questions spawned by the one, simple paragraph of text per “Turning Point”. Instead of the Facebook, Twitter and Google+ icons, how about links to further knowledge?!

But perhaps that, too, is a strength in that the pages are not polluted by more links. With the world at our fingertips, further questions can be answered with a quick Google/Bing search, albeit, that, too, leads to visual pollution and a form of knowledge pollution with the thousands of “answer” pages out there. I suppose, one could always visit GeoKnow.net for more information – perhaps you’ll find the answer there! 🙂

Enjoy your weekend!

In case you missed it… PEI boy finds amazing fossil

fossil

photo from CBC News; original by paleaontologist Sean Modesto.

You never know what you might find when you go for a stroll on the beach! But this was 20 years ago. As a young lad, Michael Arsenault found the fossil shown here and for years it stayed under his bed, unstudied – waiting for the right offer from a museum. The Royal Ontario Museum came through in 2004 and now the fossil has been properly studied and identified. It is no less than the only reptile found to date from a time period some 300 million years ago, just before the onslaught of the dinosaur era.

Read the full story at CBC News. It is and certainly a reminder to watch what you’re picking up on the beach – or anytime you’re around sedimentary rock!

Geologic Time

GeologicTimeHow often do you check your watch or your phone for the time? How about your daybook or agenda for upcoming or past events? Everything today seems to happen so quickly, unless you’re sitting in the dentist’s chair or waiting room.

Geologic Time is something different altogether. Rather than seconds, minutes and hours, geologic time is measured in epochs, periods and eras. National Geographic has created a helpful, visual time line they call their Prehistoric Time Line. While it is geared primarily to biological events, it’s strength is in it interactive nature and excellent graphics.

For a more geologic view, have a look at the UCMP Geologic Time Scale (UCMP=University of California Museum of Paleontology). While less visual and more text-oriented, the UCMP time line is very complete with great text, some graphics and some of the global fossil locations listed and linked.

I spent a bit of time searching for a video to convey the same information in a succinct and visually compelling way, but was quickly underwhelmed by what’s out there…so, if anyone can suggest an online video of geologic time, I would greatly appreciate hearing about it. For now, I’ll just settle for these two.

For more information about Earth’s Lithosphere, visit www.GeoKnow.net > Lithosphere