Why a Billion Years of Earth’s History Just Vanished From Human Records

Earth’s 4.5 billion-year history is missing a nearly quarter-sized piece.

Sal
Lessons from History
6 min readApr 3, 2024

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AI generated image depicting a giant gap in our planet’s history.

Since the good old school days, we’ve learned about the Earth’s history in all its epic glory, but what you might not have known is that an entire BILLION years’ worth of history is supposedly missing from humans’ records.

This is not to say that the information for that period was lost sometime along the way, we’re not even sure it ever existed in the first place. Interestingly enough, no one knows how to account for it either.

If you still can’t grasp the longevity of the period we’ve mentioned, take into account that the Earth’s total life till now is 4.5 billion years and what we’re talking about is almost a quarter of it. The time gap, or as geologists have deemed it, ‘The Great Unconformity,’ is a highly strange interruption in the historic fossil record, and there are multiple theories as to why it might have occurred in the first place.

It takes a few million years to form Sedimentary Rock

Geology 101 would tell you that with each layer of the ground you dig up, you’d find the rocks in reverse chronology, meaning going back in time the deeper you get. Roman

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Sal
Lessons from History

I am a History Educator and a Lifelong Learner with a Masters in Global History.