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The Early Earth: Precambrian
The 2nd Special Exhibition Gallery, Global Environment Hall
November 28, 2018 – May 26, 2019

“By taking geology it will help you get the full entertainment value out of this planet.”-Steve Simpson

At the NMNS this winter through next spring, indulge your curiosity about the earliest part of Earth’s history - the Precambrian Era, which is also known as the Precambrian Supereon.

The Precambrian Era is vast, almost unimaginably so. As its name implies, this era includes all of geological time prior to the Cambrian period. The Precambrian is usually considered to have three eons: the Hadean, the Archean, and the Proterozoic. Marked by different layers of sedimentary rock, the Precambrian is the earliest of the geologic ages. Precambrian time accounts for about 88% of Earth’s history, starting with the planet’s creation about 4.6 billion years ago and ending with the emergence of complex multi-celled life forms about 540 million years ago. This period of time is not only the longest but also fundamental in the entire history of the Earth.

The Early Earth: Precambrian The Early Earth: Precambrian The Early Earth: Precambrian The Early Earth: Precambrian

As we know, the primary way we get an understanding of Earth’s history is by studying the rocks and fossils leftover from various time periods. The difficulty in studying the Precambrian period is because many of the rocks from that time have been so heavily metamorphosed or eroded away that they are not recognizable in their original form. In fact, before some fossil discoveries were made late in the 20th century, the Precambrian was considered unknowable – evolution’s dark ages.

The Early Earth: PrecambrianThe Early Earth: Precambrian explores this important but often overlooked prehistoric era with its rich content. It reveals the major historical events that occurred during the Precambrian era, including the formation of the solar system and the Earth, the origin of life, the rise in oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere, the movement of Earth’s plates, the snowball Earth… etc. The exhibition also refers to the Phanerozoic Eon, which is the current geologic eon recognized by scientists in the geologic time scale, and the one during which abundant animal and plant life has existed.

The Early Earth: Precambrian“We organized the exhibition chronologically and by subject,” said the exhibition curator Dr. Dong Guo-an at the opening reception. “The exhibition begins with the introduction and importance of the Precambrian Era and goes through its three eons of Earth’s history right up to the current Phanerozoic Eon.” “We often enjoy using our imagination to think about what the Earth was like when dinosaurs roamed around. We also like to know what the Earth looked like when it was first formed. The Early Earth will help you understand how the Earth formed, what it looked like during its earliest years, and how life first developed on Earth,” Dong added.

For the whole exhibition as well as for the individual section, the curatorial team tried to make the unfamiliar subject interesting and easy-understanding. In addition to getting to know the important milestones in the development of our planet and the evolution of life occurred during the Precambrian, visitors will experience a variety of fossils, a high-resolution film, and hands-on interactive displays that mainly tell the story of the Earth.

The Early Earth: Precambrian The Early Earth: Precambrian The Early Earth: Precambrian The Early Earth: Precambrian

In The Early Earth: Precambrian, learning is entertaining and fun.

The Early Earth: Precambrian presented by the National Museum of Natural Science is co-organized by Beijing SHRIMP Center.

  • Admission to the exhibition is included in the general Museum admission.