Geologists have dubbed Earth’s middle age the “boring billion”. Occurring some 1,800 to 800 million years ago, it has long been considered a period when little happened on Earth in terms of biological evolution, climate, or the chemistry of the oceans and atmosphere. But emerging evidence now suggests that the “boring billion” may have been far more dynamic than that. Our planet has been shaped by many monumental events. From the Cambrian explosion around 540 million years ago, when most animal forms appeared, to the rise and fall of the dinosaurs, the dramatic course of biological evolution is well documented…

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