Course Overview

Life has a deep history. Its origins lie more than 3000-million years ago, and the time since has been defined by constant change: lineages have transformed, split, and become extinct over geological time, and life itself has terraformed our planet. All of this is the result of evolution. This course will explore the evolution of life in deep time, from its origins and the earliest known fossils, through major evolutionary transitions, to the ecosystems alive today.

There are seven of the ten topics in this course linked below. Select one to begin, or you can click on the banner below for the introduction to the course!

Introduction banner

Milestones in evolution

This site provides an overview of important evolutionary milestones in the first 3000-million years of life.


How do lineages evolve over tens of millions of years? This session looks into the patterns and processes of evolution in deep time, and across the tree of life.


Here we chart the history of extinctions over geological time, mass extinctions in the past, and the currently occurring mass extinction.


This site provides an introduction to ecology in deep time: both of fossil species, and of extinct communities.

Conservation Palaeobiology

At a time when human activities are impacting on every part of the biosphere, the fossil record can provide context for – and help us – conserve living species.


How are fossils distributed in time and space? What can this tell is?

Evolution of Terrestrial Life

Life started in the ocean. In this lecture we see how, and when, life evolved to live on land.