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The History of Earth: How we made it

It's easy to forget just how old this planet we call home is. When we look around and see our home comforts, it feels that Earth must've always been this way. How could it be any different? 

But in the long history of Earth, we're a small dot at the end. The planet has been around for almost 4.6 billion years. We've been on it for just 300,000. That's about 0.007% of the entire history of Earth.

This poster came out tops in pick the next print, the place where anyone can vote on which posters we do next. 

As we enter a phase of huge change for our planet, it feels like the right time to reflect back on where we've come from, and how we came to be here.

As always, we started with the research. One of the easiest ways to understand where we came from, is through a 'tree of life' diagram. These diagrams trace our life from today, all the way back to our last universal common ancestor. 

We realised pretty fast that it's so easy to overcomplicate the tree of life. Do you add in numbers of species? Total number of organisms? The data is pretty endless.

So we decided to take the advice of our favourite data visualiser, Edward Tufte, who wrote The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, and keep it nice and clean. Concentrating on when and where organisms came from, and giving it a rainbow palette. Because what's more life-affirming than a rainbow? 

But there's more to the story than just us animals. That's why we added the backdrop of mass extinction events, and the changing face of Earth.

Like what you see? Stay tuned as we'll be sharing the poster soon.

We’ve got lots of posters we want to make, and the order we do that in is up to you. This poster was voted for in pick the next print. Take a look at what's coming next, or if you'd like to vote on what you want next go here.