Earth’s history is not so long that scientists can easily ignore large bits of it, much less a billion years — nearly a quarter of the planet’s existence. But geologists have traditionally found little of interest in the time from 1.8 billion to 800 million years ago, dubbed the “boring billion.” More dynamic periods have stolen scientists’ attention, leaving this era relatively unexplored.
Now, new methods, coupled with new attitudes, are revising ideas about the boring billion, Thomas Sumner reports. And that’s transforming the uninteresting into the intriguing, leading scientists to ponder why the climate was so unusually stable during this period, for example, and what chain of events later jazzed things up. Scientists now say