I was looking at some numbers concerning the Cambrian explosion. The results were quite stunning to me.
Simple life, we are told, emerged 3.8 billion years ago, and the Cambrian Explosion occurred 550 million years ago. In a single 10 million year period (taking the longest estimate), 95% of the animal phyla appeared. The math:
For the first 85% of the history of life there was no significant animal life.
Almost all animal life arose in only the last 15% of the history of life.
Indeed, 95% of animal phyla arose in a length of time that is only one forth of one percent of the history of life (0.25%).
If the entire history of life were 3,800 years long, almost all of the animal phyla would have arisen in a single decade of those 3.8 millenia.