Evolution of life

Prokaryotes inhabited the Earth from approximately 34 billion years ago.[255][256] No obvious changes in morphology or cellular organisation occurred in these organisms over the next few billion years.[257] The eukaryotic cells emerged between 1.6 2.7 billion years ago. The next major change in cell structure came when bacteria were engulfed by eukaryotic cells, in a cooperative association called endosymbiosis.[258][259] The engulfed bacteria and the host cell then underwent co-evolution, with the bacteria evolving into either mitochondria or hydrogenosomes.[260] Another engulfment of cyanobacterial-like organisms led to the formation of chloroplasts in algae and plants.[261] The history of life was that of the unicellular eukaryotes, prokaryotes and archaea until about 610 million years ago when multicellular organisms began to appear in the oceans in the Ediacaran period.[255][262] The evolution of multicellularity occurred in multiple independent events, in organisms as diverse as sponges, brown algae, cyanobacteria, slime moulds and myxobacteria.[263] Soon after the emergence of these first multicellular organisms, a remarkable amount of b

ological diversity appeared over approximately 10 million years, in an event called the Cambrian explosion. Here, the majority of types of modern animals appeared in the fossil record, as well as unique lineages that subsequently became extinct.[264] Various triggers for the Cambrian explosion have been proposed, including the accumulation of oxygen in the atmosphere from photosynthesis.[265] About 500 million years ago, plants and fungi colonised the land and were soon followed by arthropods and other animals.[266] Insects were particularly successful and even today make up the majority of animal species.[267] Amphibians first appeared around 364 million years ago, followed by early amniotes and birds around 155 million years ago (both from "reptile"-like lineages), mammals around 129 million years ago, homininae around 10 million years ago and modern humans around 250,000 years ago.[268][269][270] However, despite the evolution of these large animals, smaller organisms similar to the types that evolved early in this process continue to be highly successful and dominate the Earth, with the majority of both biomass and species being prokaryotes.