Humans have gotten a lot done in 300,000 years: We invented agriculture, developed writing systems, built cities, created the internet, and shrugged off gravity to land on the moon. These innovations make our past seem long—and stuffed with significance. But in the brief history of life, everything we’ve ever accomplished fits into a tiny sliver of time—just 0.008 percent of the entire continuum shown below. This is how the rise of the animal kingdom stretches out compared with our relatively insignificant existence.
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This story appears in the Spring 2020, Origins issue of Popular Science.