We humans tend to have a warped conception when it comes to time. For example, we like to lump all ancient past events together while failing to appreciate how much time has passed between those events. Or because we perceive a notable person who died 6 or 7 decades ago as being young because they died at such an early age, it blows our mind to think that there are elderly people alive today who were their peers at that time. Here’s a side-by-side comparison that really puts time in perspective.
Oxford University came into existence before the Aztec Empire (by centuries!)
By the time the Aztec Empire was formed and its people were carving the famous sunstone in 1325, professors at Oxford University had already been waxing philosophy for more than 200 years. The world-renowned academic institution first opened its doors in 1096.
The time that passed between the extinction of Stegosaurus and the first appearance of the T-Rex is greater than the period between the extinction of the T-Rex and when modern humans first appeared
Contrary to popular belief, not all of the dinosaurs roamed the Earth at the same time. For example, the Stegosaurus, beloved by children because of the badass spikes on their tails and the upright plates along their back, lived during the Late Jurassic period and vanished around 150 million years ago. Meanwhile, the Tyrannosaurus Rex didn’t first appear until 70 million years after that. They went extinct roughly 65 million years ago, while modern humans have existed for 300,000 years, meaning the gap between the extinction and existence of Stegosauruses and T-Rex respectively is 5 million years greater than the T-Rex and humans.
Queen Elizabeth II is three years older than Anne Frank
Anne Frank, the Holocaust victim made famous posthumously as a result of her diary, in which she documents her life in hiding during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, will forever be remembered as a teenage girl. But while she would be almost 92 years old today, she would nonetheless still be 3 years younger than Queen Elizabeth, who at 95 years old is the oldest British Monarch in history.
When the Egyptian Pyramids were built, woolly mammoths were still doing their woolly mammoth thing
The ancient Egyptians finished building the Giza pyramids around 4,500 years ago. Meanwhile, in 2019 woolly mammoth fossils dating back 4,000 years were discovered on Wrangel Island in the Arctic Ocean. In other words, the giant, hairy elephant-like creatures still existed for at least another 500 years after the famous pyramids were built.
More time has passed between the completion of the Egyptian Pyramids and the reign of Cleopatra than Cleopatra’s death and the invention of Facebook
As noted, the Pyramids were built 4,500 years ago, or 2,500 years before the famous Egyptian queen was born. She died in 30 BCE, or around 2,035 years before Facebook was launched by half man/ half cyborg Mark Zuckerberg.
The Pyramids were far more ancient to the Roman Empire than the Roman Empire is to us
Lest you think this article is nothing but facts about the Pyramids, we promise this is the last one. At the time of the Roman Empire, the Pyramids had already existed for 2,500 years. Fast-forward to the present, and it’s “only” been about 570 years since the fall of Constantinople, which is recognized as the death knell of the Roman Empire.
The oldest living person was born closer to the date the US Constitution was signed than to today
Kane Tanaka, the oldest living person at 118, was born on January 2, 1903, which was 116 years after the 1787 signing of the US Constitution.
When Tanaka was born, human flight was still 11 months from becoming a reality
On December 17, 1903, the Wright Brothers demonstrated that insects, birds, bats and flying squirrels no longer had the sky to themselves. This was around the time Baby Tanaka would have demonstrated to her parents through her first steps that they weren’t the only ones who could walk around the house.
A grandson of the 10th US president is still alive
President John Tyler had a son, Lyon Tyler, at the ripe old age of 63. Lyon topped his father for the title of “oldest father in the Tyler family” by having three sons himself after the age of 67. One of them died in infancy, another, Lyon Tyler Jr., died in 2020 at 86, while Harrison Ruffin, now 83 years old, is still with us.
When Star Wars Episode I was released, France was still executing people by guillotine
When you think of the guillotine, you probably associate it with France circa 1790 when Marie Antoinette was beheaded for having the audacity to tell her subjects to make way to their neighborhood bakery and enjoy a delicious dessert. But French authorities were still executing people this way up until 1977 when Hamida Djandoubi met his fate due to crimes that, suffice it to say, had absolutely nothing to do with telling people to eat cake.