Toilet Paper Timeline

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Yesterday, the students learned about the history of life on Earth from the formation of the first micro organisms in the oceans, to the emergence of the first plants, dinosaurs and mammals.

Their task for the afternoon was to use their newly acquired knowledge to reconstruct a large scale timeline of the Earth’s history using toilet paper. In this case, the students made two, which, combined, just about covered the entire perimeter of the lab building!

Sarah and Janina write out some of the labels...

Sarah and Janina write out some of the labels…

... as Erica and Tiffany lay our the toilet paper.

… while Erica and Tiffany lay our the toilet paper.

The whole Earth’s history, since its formation, is comparable to 400 sheets of toilet paper, with each sheet representing 12.5 million years.

Meanwhile Rob, Angela, Robyn, Lauren and Kailie start unravelling their timeline too.

Meanwhile, with Tom’s assistance, Rob, Angela, Robyn, Lauren, and Kailie, start unravelling their timeline too.

And so the story goes…

Week 6   Week 61

Week 610

Week 62

Week 63   Week 64
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Snowball Earth!

Rob adds the emergence of land plants with inner walls at 0.5 Ma.

Rob adds the emergence of land plants with inner vessels at 0.5 Billion years.

Week 65

Dr. Martins comes for a visit as the students reach 0.4 Million years.

Dr. Martins comes for a visit as the students reach 0.4 Billion years.

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A desert locust conveniently “takes a break” at 380 Million years.

Week 66

Week 67

Sarah draws her interpretation of the Loch Ness monster as a representative of the Mesozoic Marine Revolution.

Sarah draws her interpretation of the Loch Ness monster as a representative of the Mesozoic Marine Revolution.

Week 68

Lauren adds the first true grazers at 7 Million years.

Lauren adds the first true grazers at 7 Million years.

Week 69

And the story ends with the emergence of early hominins and the beginning of the Human story.

No, wait! We forgot Tom! No true timeline would be complete without her.

No, wait! We forgot Tom!

The students had a lot of fun recreating a toilet paper history of life on Earth “one square at a time”. It was a great bit of story-telling, and it really illustrated the sheer vastness of time elapsed since the very beginning, and how tiny our own existence is in relation to it all.

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NEWSFLASH! : TBI students unravel bog roll scam!

The exciting research taking place at TBI has contributed to many scientific breakthroughs over the years; but this time, the students stumbled across something rather unexpected. While they were laying out the toilet paper for the Timeline exercise, they found that the purported 200 sheet rolls had, in fact, only 150! It’s an outrage! There’s a lot you can get out of the 50 missing sheets… That’s 625 Million Earth years right there!

The guilty party.

The guilty party, looking extremely innocent.

And so once again, the students at TBI roll out a new discovery. Whatever next? Stay tuned for more exciting news from Turkana!

By | 2017-01-04T18:04:55+00:00 February 26th, 2014|Field School|Comments Off on Toilet Paper Timeline

About the Author:

Hi! I am Kat Warren and I am the Teaching Assistant for the Spring 2014 field school. While I am here I am also involved in the African Fossils Project (africanfossils.org) where I am 3D-scanning modern African fauna, fossils and archaeological material. I am a recent graduate in Archaeological Science from the University of Sheffield and my current interests lie in the evolution of cognition, and primate behaviour as a means to understand the cognitive frameworks of our earliest ancestors.