The Ectasian Period (from Greek ἔκτασις (éktasis), meaning "extension") is the second geologic period in the Mesoproterozoic Era and lasted from 1400 Mya ago to 1200 Mya (million years ago). Instead of being based on stratigraphy, these dates are defined chronometrically.

Geologically the name refers to the continued expansion of platform covers during this period.

This period is interesting for the first evidence of sexual reproduction. The 1.2 billion years old Hunting Formation on Somerset Island, Canada, dates from the end of the Ectasian. It contains the microfossils of the multicellular filaments of Bangiomorpha pubescens (type of red algae), the first taxonomically resolved eukaryote. This was the first organism that exhibited sexual reproduction, which is an essential feature for complex multicellularity. Complex multicellularity is different from "simple" multicellularity, such as colonies of organisms living together. True multicellular organisms contain cells that are specialized for different functions. This is, in fact, an essential feature of sexual reproduction as well, since the male and female gametes are specialized cells. Organisms that reproduce sexually must solve the problem of generating an entire organism from just the germ cells.

Sexual reproduction and the ability of gametes to develop into an organism are the necessary antecedents to true multicellularity. In fact, we tend to think of sexual reproduction and true multicellularity as occurring at the same time, and true multicellularity is often taken as a marker for sexual reproduction.

Ectasian Period
1400–1200 million years ago

See also


  • "Mesoproterozoic Era". Archived from the original on 29 August 2011. Retrieved 13 September 2011.
  • James G. Ogg (2004). "Status on Divisions of the International Geologic Time Scale". Lethaia. 37 (2): 183–199. doi:10.1080/00241160410006492.
Cambrian Series 2

Cambrian Series 2 is the unnamed 2nd series of the Cambrian. It lies above the Terreneuvian series and below the Miaolingian. Series 2 has not been formally defined by the International Commission on Stratigraphy, lacking a precise lower boundary and subdivision into stages. The proposed lower boundary is the first appearance of trilobites which is estimated to be around 521 million years ago.

Cambrian Stage 3

Cambrian Stage 3 is the still unnamed third stage of the Cambrian. It succeeds Cambrian Stage 2 and precedes Cambrian Stage 4, although neither its base nor top have been formally defined. The plan is for its lower boundary to correspond approximately to the first appearance of trilobites, about 521 million years ago, though the globally asynchronous appearance of trilobites warrants the use of a separate, globally synchronous marker to define the base. The upper boundary and beginning of Cambrian Stage 4 is informally defined as the first appearance of the trilobite genera Olenellus or Redlichia around 514 million years ago.

Cambrian Stage 4

Cambrian Stage 4 is the still unnamed fourth stage of the Cambrian and the upper stage of Cambrian Series 2. It follows Cambrian Stage 3 and lies below the Wuliuan. The lower boundary has not been formally defined by the International Commission on Stratigraphy. One proposal is the first appearance of two trilobite genera, Olenellus or Redlichia. Another proposal is the first appearance of the trilobite species Arthricocephalus chauveaui. Both proposals will set the lower boundary close to 514 million years ago. The upper boundary corresponds to the beginning of the Wuliuan.


The Chattian is, in the geologic timescale, the younger of two ages or upper of two stages of the Oligocene epoch/series. It spans the time between 28.1 and 23.03 Ma. The Chattian is preceded by the Rupelian and is followed by the Aquitanian (the lowest stage of the Miocene).


The Furongian is the fourth and final series of the Cambrian. It lasted from 497 to 485.4 million years ago. It succeeds the Miaolingian series of the Cambrian and precedes the Lower Ordovician Tremadocian stage. It is subdivided into three stages: the Paibian, Jiangshanian and the unnamed 10th stage of the Cambrian.

Geological period

A geological period is one of the several subdivisions of geologic time enabling cross-referencing of rocks and geologic events from place to place.

These periods form elements of a hierarchy of divisions into which geologists have split the Earth's history.

Eons and eras are larger subdivisions than periods while periods themselves may be divided into epochs and ages.

The rocks formed during a period belong to a stratigraphic unit called a system.

Historical geology

Historical geology or paleogeology is a discipline that uses the principles and techniques of geology to reconstruct and understand the geological history of Earth. It focuses on geologic processes that change the Earth's surface and subsurface; and the use of stratigraphy, structural geology and paleontology to tell the sequence of these events. It also focuses on the evolution of plants and animals during different time periods in the geological timescale. The discovery of radioactivity and the development of several radiometric dating techniques in the first half of the 20th century provided a means of deriving absolute versus relative ages of geologic history.

Economic geology, the search for and extraction of fuel and raw materials, is heavily dependent on an understanding of the geological history of an area. Environmental geology, including most importantly the geologic hazards of earthquakes and volcanism, must also include a detailed knowledge of geologic history.


The Katian is the second stage of the Upper Ordovician. It is preceded by the Sandbian and succeeded by the Hirnantian stage. The Katian began 453 million years ago and lasted for about 7.8 million years until the beginning of the Hirnantian 445.2 million years ago.


The Mesoproterozoic Era is a geologic era that occurred from 1,600 to 1,000 million years ago.

The Mesoproterozoic was the first period of Earth's history of which a fairly definitive geological record survives. Continents existed during the preceding era (the Paleoproterozoic), but little is known about them. The continental masses of the Mesoproterozoic were more or less the same ones that exist today.


The Miaolingian is the third Series of the Cambrian period, and was formally named in 2018. It lasted from about 509 to 497 million years ago and is divided into 3 stages: the Wuliuan, the Drumian, and the Guzhangian. The Miaolingian is preceded by the unnamed Cambrian Series 2 and succeeded by the Furongian series.

Riphean (stage)

The Riphean is a stage or age of the geologic timescale from 1,600 to 650 million years ago. The name Riphean is used in the Proterozoic stratigraphy of Russia and the Fennoscandian Shield in Finland. It was also used in a number of older international geologic timescales but, in the most recent timescales of the ICS, it is replaced by the Calymmian, Ectasian, Stenian, Tonian and Cryogenian periods of the Neoproterozoic and Mesoproterozoic eras.

The word 'Riphean' comes from the ancient Riphean Mountains, sometimes identified with the Ural Mountains.

The Riphean has been divided by geologists into the Early Riphean (1600–1400 Ma), Middle Riphean (1400–1000 Ma) and Late Riphean (1000–650 Ma) subdivisions.


The Sandbian is the first stage of the Upper Ordovician. It follows the Darriwilian and is succeeded by the Katian. Its lower boundary is defined as the first appearance datum of the graptolite species Nemagraptus gracilis around 458.4 million years ago. The Sandbian lasted for about 5.4 million years until the beginning of the Katian around 453 million years ago.


The Stenian Period (from Greek στενός (stenós), meaning "narrow") is the final geologic period in the Mesoproterozoic Era and lasted from 1200 Mya to 1000 Mya (million years ago). Instead of being based on stratigraphy, these dates are defined chronometrically. The name derives from narrow polymetamorphic belts formed over this period.

Preceded by the Ectasian period and followed by the Neoproterozoic Era.

The supercontinent Rodinia assembled during the Stenian. It would last into the Tonian period.

This period includes the formation of the Keweenawan Rift at about 1100 Mya.

System (stratigraphy)

A system in stratigraphy is a unit of rock layers that were laid down together within the same corresponding geological period. The associated period is a chronological time unit, a part of the geological time scale, while the system is a unit of chronostratigraphy. Systems are unrelated to lithostratigraphy, which subdivides rock layers on their lithology. Systems are subdivisions of erathems and are themselves divided into series and stages.

Timeline of natural history

This timeline of natural history summarizes significant geological and biological events from the formation of the Earth to the arrival of modern humans. Times are listed in millions of years, or megaanni (Ma).


The Tournaisian is in the ICS geologic timescale the lowest stage or oldest age of the Mississippian, the oldest subsystem of the Carboniferous. The Tournaisian age lasted from 358.9 Ma to 346.7 Ma. It is preceded by the Famennian (the uppermost stage of the Devonian) and is followed by the Viséan.


The Tremadocian is the lowest stage of Ordovician. Together with the later Floian stage it forms the Lower Ordovician epoch. The Tremadocian lasted from 485.4 to 477.7 million years ago. The base of the Tremadocian is defined as the first appearance of the conodont species Iapetognathus fluctivagus at the Global Boundary Stratotype Section and Point (GSSP) section on Newfoundland.


Unikonts or Amorphea are members of a taxonomic supergroup that includes the basal Amoebozoa and Obazoa. That latter contains the Opisthokonta, which includes the Fungi, Animals and the Choanomonada, or Choanoflagellates. The taxonomic affinities of the members of this clade were originally described and proposed by Thomas Cavalier-Smith in 2002.The International Society of Protistologists, the recognised body for taxonomy of protozoa, recommended in 2012 that the term Unikont be changed to Amorphea because the name "Unikont" is based on a hypothesized synapomorphy that the ISP authors and other scientists later rejected.It includes amoebozoa, opisthokonts, and possibly Apusozoa.


The Visean, Viséan or Visian is an age in the ICS geologic timescale or a stage in the stratigraphic column. It is the second stage of the Mississippian, the lower subsystem of the Carboniferous. The Visean lasted from 346.7 to 330.9 Ma. It follows the Tournaisian age/stage and is followed by the Serpukhovian age/stage.


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