I am always surprised by how long mammals have been around.
Let’s compress all of earth’s 4.5 billion years of history into a single year, such that the earth would have first formed on January 1 of this year, and the present — the here and now — would be represented by the stroke of midnight on the last day of this year, December 31. On this scale of time the first primitive microbial life forms appeared on earth in late March, followed by more complex photosynthetic microorganisms in mid- to late-May. Land plants and animals emerged from the sea in mid-November, and the first mammal drew its breath on Thanksgiving Day. Dinosaurs appeared on earth on the morning of December 13, but then disappeared forever on December 25, at 7:30 p.m. Coincidentally, or not, just a moment before, a six-mile-wide asteroid hit the earth near the Yucatan peninsula and plunged the earth into what some scientists have described as a thousand years of winter’s hell.
Â Â Â Â Human-like creatures appeared in Africa sometime during the evening of December 31, around dinner time, maybe 6:30 p.m. or so. Homo sapiens appeared on earth at about five minutes to midnight on New Year’s Eve, in the midst of the last great ice age. Rome ruled the Western world for five seconds — from 15 seconds to 10 seconds before midnight on the 31st. And as the ball begins to drop — Columbus landed in the New World three seconds to midnight, the United States was founded one and a half seconds before midnight, and 13 men with 13 prayers and 13 dollars met in the frontier settlement of Hamilton, New York to found Colgate University just slightly more than one second before midnight, at the end of this eventful year.