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The Geological History of New Jersey

                                     

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Phanerozoic means Evident Life
Proterozoic means Early Life
Archean means Ancient

Cenozoic means Recent Life, the Cenozoic Era is also known as the Age of Mammals
Mesozoic means Middle Life, the Mesozoic Era is also known as the Age of Reptiles
Paleozoic means Ancient Life

MYA = million years ago / BYA = Billion years ago

Numbers like these are impossible to imagine, especially when counted in years.
To help, if instead of years we counted in seconds, 1 million seconds ago would
be 11.5 days ago, while 1 billion seconds ago would be 32 years ago.

The events listed below represent the times that the events or organism first appeared in the fossil record.
Touch the blinking squares for more information.





Million Years Ago

Today


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1.2 BYA











































































































































































































































































































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1.9 BYA











































































































































































































































































































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4.533 BYA





































































































4.567 BYA
Events



Present Day All of recorded human history can be found within the thickness of the dashed line here!
Mass extinctions! Ongoing extinctions of many species - likely caused by human beings
Homo sapiens (.15 mya)
H. neanderthalensis (.35 mya)
Recent Ice Ages Begin The Ice Ages ended only 10,000 years ago.
Gigantopithecus & H. erectus (1.8 mya)
Homo habilis Widespread use of stone tools, Smilodon Sabre-tooth Tiger





Australopithecus "Lucy" Early human ancestor-named after the Beatles song Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds


Earliest Mammoths Multiple finds in NJ
Tree Sloths and Hippos
N. & S. American Land Bridge
Forms / Mediterranean floods
Earliest Hominins







Blue Whale


Giant Ground Sloth














NJ Miocene fossil collection Sampling of marine fossils from DIG IT! workshop
Mastodons and Kangaroos







Hominids appear





Megalodon The Great Shark, Parrots and Pigeons
Giraffes










Antarctic Ice Cap forms


Deer








Koalas





Barnacles, Pigs & Cats





Dolphins





Monkeys, Alps Rise
Meteorite impact Toms Canyon Crater (6 mi diameter) 100 mi east of Atlantic City
Glacial Ages in South
Mississippi River forms
Major grassland expansion
Extinctions of many Reptiles &
Amphibians. Eagles, Hawks & Dogs











Modern Moths & Butterflies














Primates split into 2 groups














Antarctica & Australia Separate
Himalayan Mts. form
Bats, Rhinos & Camels









Meteor impact creates
Chesapeake Bay

Rabbits, Hares, Song Birds, Rodents,
Horses, & other hoofed mammals,
Whales, Elephants and Dugongs

True Grasses

N. Atlantic Volcanic Activity








Rocky Mts. Form
Earliest Primates, Owls, Hedgehogs,
Moles and Shrews












K-T Extinction Event Nearly 75% of the species on Earth disappear. Including 60% of plant species and all non-avian dinosaurs, pterosaurs and giant sea reptiles.


Ellisdale Fossil Site
Deinosuchus

Triceratops/T. rex! Not found in NJ.








Dryptosaurus A very rare NJ carnivorous dinosaur!











Hadrosaurus! The New Jersey State Dinosaur!

















World's Oldest known Bee! Found in New Jersey amber!
Termites













Velociraptor Not found in NJ














Flowering Plants dominate
Modern Sharks appear, Snakes
Extinction of Ichthyosaurs



World's Oldest known Ant! Found in New Jersey amber in 1998!
World's Oldest Mushroom! Found in New Jersey amber!
Sayreville Amber Oldest known fossil tick, mosquito, moth and black fly!





















Cycle of Sea Level Rise/Fall shapes current coastal plain topography





























Diving Birds












































Marsupials














Freshwater Turtles





























Flowering Plants





























Archaeopteryx Not found in NJ.














Blood-sucking Insects


Allosaurus/Apatosaurus
Stegosaurus Western US dinos










Coniferous forests peak
Ginkgos appear Common street tree in NJ.













Pangaea begins breaking up
Atlantic ocean born! NJ separates from Africa
Rays












Newts












































Watchung Mountains &
Palisades form Basaltic extrusions and intrusions respectively













Hermit Crabs & Pliosaurs


Eastern N. American volcanic
activity ends.










Belemnites and specialized Pterosaurs











Eastern N. American volcanic
activity begins.
Newark Supergroup forms NJ Dinosaur footprints!
Primitive crocodiles appear
Ramapo Fault forms No longer active
NJ Brownstone forms Unnofficial state rock of New Jersey
Extinction event! Many amphibian and terrestrial vertebrates go extinct


























Coelophysis/Dilophosaurus NJ Dinosaur footprint makers?











Manicouagan impact site Meteor crater in Canada














Conifers


"True" mammals appear
Turtles and Flies













Dinosaurs & Ferns
Continents move together! Forming the Supercontinent Pangaea
Passaic Formation Bedrock consisting of mostly reddish-brown shale, siltstone and mudstone






Icarosaurus NJ's gliding lizard























Lockatong Formation Bedrock consisting of very fine grained sandstone, silty argillite, and laminated mudstone
Stockton Formation Bedrock consisting of medium to coarse grained sandstone, siltstone and mudstone with shale interbeds, feldspar pebbly sandstone, conglomerate, and quartz-pebble conglomerate





































Mass Extinction! The Great Dying - Nearly 95% of all species on Earth disappear, including 50% of all woodland plant species.





























Mammal-like Reptiles appear





























Dimetrodon Sail-backed carnivore often mistaken for a dinosaur





























Beetles appear





























Alleghenian Orogeny,
Earliest Frogs & Salamanders



















Cycads








Egg-laying Reptiles
and Winged Insects
Supercontinent of Pangaea Forms

























































Conifers














Dragonflies










































































Plants w/Roots
Extensive Coal Deposits form (PA)




























Amphibians move onto land
Glacial period in Gondwana
- (S. Hemisphere)
Land Scorpion and Ray-finned Fish
Ferns and Crabs











Mass Extinction! Up to 70% of species including all armored fish and many brachiopods











































Appalachians form Resembling the Rockies of today!
Acadian Orogeny ends
Spiders, Millipedes & Centipedes
Amphibian-like Lobe-finned Fish












Development of Major Forests, Lampreys



























Lichens, Mites & Ammonoids















Plants surge onto the land
Horsetails (earliest "tall" trees),
True Sharks and Lungfish
Kittatinny Ridge Forms




















Acadian Orogeny begins


Jawed Fish appear


True Fish teeth





Insects move onto the land








Earliest land plants (psilopsids)














Glacial period in Gondwana
- (S. Hemisphere)




























Waxy Coated Algae moves onto land
Earliest Protosharks & Placoderms (Armored Fish)












Thelodonts (Fish with tooth-like scales)














Vascular Plant Spores











Mass Extinction! Nearly 50% of all species (mainly trilobites and echinoderms)

















Highlands Region Forms A volcanic island arc formed and collided with proto North America. The islands rode over the top of the North American plate creating the NJ Highlands.





























Early Appalachian Orogeny












































Nonvascular Plant Spores,
Graptolites and Sea Scorpions













Jawless Fish
Sea Stars and Crinoids













Bony Fish












































Taconic Orogeny Uplifting and folding of the continental plates leaves the NJ Highland in their present position
Sea Snails, Gastropods & Ostracods, Arthropods on land
Iapetus Ocean Forms (proto-Atlantic)


























Nautiloids
Supercontinents of Gondwana
(Southern Hemisphere) & Laurasia
(Northern Hemisphere) Form
























































Earliest chordates Animals with backbones
Burgess shale created! Famous fossil site in Canada
Arthropods












Brachiopods, Crustaceans,
Mollusks, Echinoderms, Foraminifers
& Radiolarians












Shellfish





























Trilobites appear, Sponges,
Corals & Sea Anemones




























Ediacaran biota
Definitive Fungi






















































































































Oxygen reaches present levels 21% of current atmosphere
Supercontinent of Pannotia,
(also called Vendian Forms)



















































































































































400 day year
Worldwide glacial period


























































































Soft-bodied marine invertebrates

























































Zoophytes appear Single celled organisms that resemble animals and plants
Rodinia Breaks Up




















































































































































Multi-celled organisms
Panthalassic Ocean forms




















































































































































Protozoans abundant  single-celled consumers





















































































































































Evidence of cell division









































































































































































































































































































































Pompton Pink Granite formed NJ's Prized Building Stone























































































































Grenville Orogeny 15,000 ft high mountains rise over what is now the NJ Highlands - the weight of which crushes the bedrock into metamorphic gneiss, marble and schist











































































































































































































































































































Supercontinent (Rodinia)
Dinolagellates










































































































































































































































































































NJ Stromatolites Stromatolites found in the Franklin Marble, New Jersey Highlands
NJ graphite deposits form mined in NJ from colonial times till the 1930's for multiple industrial uses
Microscopic colonization of land









































































































































































































































































































Multicellular Algae

















































































































































































































Oldest Rocks in NJ Outcrop of NJ Oldest Rocks
















































































































































































































































Eukaryotic cells




















































































































































Evidence of Fungi











































































































































































































































































































Last banded iron formations


































































































































































































































































































Hudsonian Orogeny




















































































































































































































































































































Atmospheric Oxygen reaches ~15%



































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































End of iron formation





















































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































Major banded iron formation
starts
Widespread glaciation
Great Oxygenation Event (GOE) Photosynthetic oxygen production builds to toxic levels for many anaerobic life forms - leading to their extinction






















































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































Stromatolites reign as
most visible life form Blue-Green Algae







Oxygen build-ups in atmosphere































































































































































































































































































Kenoran Orogeny


Supercontinent of Columbia
(also called Nuna) Forms










































































































































































































































































































Earliest definite evidence of
cellular life Canadian and Australia fossils
Supercontinent of Kenorland Forms









































































































































































































































































































Tidal & monthly cycles stabilize
500 days per year
































































































































































































































































































































































































































































Laurentian Orogeny





















































































































































Lichen-like slimes!



















































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































Uivakian Orogeny







Microfossil sites found in
Australia and Swaziland may be
single-celled bacteria





















































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































Possible evidence of
fossil algea










































































































































































































































































































Cell-like inclusions found
in rocks in Greenland
Worlds Oldest Sedimentary Rocks

Atmosphere & Hydrosphere
begin to form





















































































































































Time of heavy meteoric
bombardment comes to an end















































































































































Theoretical time of the
formation of the first cells!









































































































































































































































































































































Acasta Gniess - Canada Oldest known rocks on Earth 4,031,000,000 YA




































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































Interior layers of the Earth differentiate
Water builds up in atmosphere
Earths' Crust Cools - impacts frequent


























































































































































































































































































































Jack Hills Zircons - Australia Oldest known minerals on Earth 4,406,000,000 YA


























































































































































































































































































Earth molten at this time.


































































































Moon forms due to impact
of Mars-sized body.





































































































Proto-Earth forms
Geologic Time
PERIODS



NJ Fossil Record from this Period includes: Musk oxen, Reindeer, Mastadon, Plants, Marine Invertebrates, Horses, Bison, Peccaries, Walruses, Moose, Ground Sloths


QUATERNARY
-----------------------
NEOGENE


NJ Fossil Record from this Period includes: Plants, Marine Invertebrates, Turtles, Crocodiles, Fishes, Birds, Tapirs, Giant Hogs, Peccaries, Rhinoceroses



























































NEOGENE
-----------------------
PALEOGENE


NJ Fossil Record from this Period includes: Plants, Marine Invertebrates, Turtles, Crocodiles, Fishes, Birds, Tapirs, Giant Hogs, Peccaries, Rhinoceroses
























































































































PALEOGENE
-----------------------
CRETACEOUS


NJ Fossil Record from this Period includes: Marine Invertebrates, Sharks, Plesiosaurs, Mosasaurs, Turtles, Crocodiles, Meat-Eating Dinosaurs, Plant-Eating Dinosaurs







































































































































































































































CRETACEOUS
-----------------------
JURASSIC


NJ Fossil Record from this Period includes: Fragmentory Reptiles




















































































































































































JURASSIC
-----------------------
TRIASSIC


NJ Fossil Record from this Period includes: Plants, Fresh Water Invertebrates, Fishes, Giant Amphibians, Phytosaurs, Gliding Lizards, Dinosaur Foot-Prints























































































































TRIASSIC
-----------------------
PERMIAN

























































































































PERMIAN
-----------------------
CARBONIFEROUS
  • Pennsylvanian































































































  • Pennsylvanian
    -----------------------
  • Mississippian

























































































  • Mississippian
    CARBONIFEROUS

    -----------------------
    DEVONIAN


    NJ Fossil Record from this Period includes: Trilobites, Mollusks, Brachiopods, Echinoderms, Corals























































































































































































    DEVONIAN
    -----------------------
    SILURIAN


    NJ Fossil Record from this Period includes: Mollusks, Worms, Brachiopods, Trilobites, Echinoderms, Bryozoans, Graptolites, Corals








































































    SILURIAN
    -----------------------
    ORDOVICIAN


    NJ Fossil Record from this Period includes: Trilobites, Mollusks, Brachiopods, Echinoderms, Bryozoans, Corals, Graptolites, Sponges, Algae







































































































































    ORDOVICIAN
    -----------------------
    CAMBRIAN


    NJ Fossil Record from this Period includes: Trilobites, Brachiopods, Sponges, Algae, Worm Tubes

























































































































































    CAMBRIAN
    -----------------------
    EDIACARAN
    or VENDIAN





















































































































































































































































































    EDIACARAN
    or VENDIAN

    -----------------------
    CRYOGENIAN





























































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































    CRYOGENIAN
    -----------------------
    TONIAN































































































































































































































































































































































































































































    TONIAN
    -----------------------
    STENIAN





















































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































    STENIAN
    -----------------------
    ECTASIAN





















































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































    ECTASIAN
    -----------------------
    CALYMMIAN





















































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































    CALYMMIAN
    -----------------------
    STATHERIAN





















































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































    STATHERIAN
    -----------------------
    OROSIRIAN














































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































    OROSIRIAN
    -----------------------
    RHYACIAN








































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































    RHYACIAN
    -----------------------
    SIDERIAN





















































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































    SIDERIAN
    -----------------------
    PERIODS are not
    used before this time!
  • Geologic Time
    ERAS




































































































































































































    CENOZOIC
    ----------------------
    MESOZOIC

































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































    MESOZOIC
    ----------------------
    PALEOZOIC
















































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































    PALEOZOIC
    ----------------------
    NEOPROTEROZOIC
























































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































    NEOPROTEROZOIC
    ----------------------
    MESOPROTEROZOIC




































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































    MESOPROTEROZOIC
    ----------------------
    PALEOPROTEROZOIC








































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































    PALEOPROTEROZOIC
    ----------------------
    NEOARCHAEAN

































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































    NEOARCHAEAN
    ----------------------
    MESOARCHEAN













































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































    MESOARCHAEAN
    ----------------------
    PALEOARCHEAN













































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































    PALEOARCHAEAN
    ----------------------
    EOARCHEAN













































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































    EOARCHAEAN
    ----------------------
    LOWER IMBRIAN









































































































































































































































































































    LOWER IMBRIAN
    ----------------------
    NECTARIAN





















































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































    NECTARIAN
    ----------------------
    BASIN GROUPS





















































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































    BASIN GROUPS
    ----------------------
    CRYPTIC
    To 4.567 BYA
    Geologic Time
    EONS

    Present Day







































    15 mya - See Color KEY at bottom of page




























































































































































































    80 mya - See Color KEY at bottom of page








































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































    245 mya - See Color KEY at bottom of page





























































































































































































    310 mya - See Color KEY at bottom of page




















































































































    350 mya - See Color KEY at bottom of page




































































    375 mya - See Color KEY at bottom of page




































































































































    420 mya - See Color KEY at bottom of page










































































































































































































































    500 mya - See Color KEY at bottom of page



























































































































    PHANEROZOIC
    ----------------------
    PROTEROZOIC












































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































    PROTEROZOIC
    ----------------------
    ARCHAEAN

















































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































    ARCHAEAN
    ----------------------
    HADEAN
    To 4.567 BYA

    The sun formed about 100 million years earlier from material
    left over from a star that exploded millions of years before.
    Some meteoric materials Example: Allende fall, Mexico, 1969 date from this time.

    The events and times listed on this website are taken from multiple sources, and discrepancies and
    errors are due to the difficulties in accurately dating fossils and the source materials often are generalized.
    Please accept the data above as it is intended; as an uncondensed representation of the history of the Earth.

    For a listing of FOSSIL SITES IN NEW JERSEY click HERE.


    Click HERE for the text and further readings from the Prehistoric Life of New Jersey poster.

    Color KEY for geologic maps
    ""