You may have thought what Earth looked like millions of years ago and when and how it changed over the years. Now there’s an interactive map which was recently released to see superimpose the political boundaries of today onto the geographic formations of yesteryear, dating back to 750 million years ago.
The piece of land now called the National Mall in Washington D.C. was part of the supercontinent known as Pangea about 240 million years ago. The National Mall was wedged almost directly adjacent to Mauritania during the Early Triassic Epoch. And still it is to be separated from the Northwest African country by the vast waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
The curator of the world’s largest digital dinosaur database masterminded the millennia spanning visualization tool, Ancient Earth is Ian Webster. In order to build the map, Webster drew on data from the PALEOMAP Project, spearheaded by paleogeographer Christopher Scotese, the initiative tracks the evolving “distribution of land and sea” over the past 1,100 million year.
The user has a choice of 26 timeline options by giving a specific address, or even a city, state or country and choosing a date from zero to 750 million years ago. It can be from the present to the Cryogenian Period at intervals of 15 to 150 million years.
According to Gizmodo’s George Dvorsky, ancient Earth includes a range of navigational features such as globe rotation toggle display options, light and cloud coverage. You can see a short descriptions of the time period chosen and a drop-down menu where users can choose specific milestones in history, from Earth’s first multicellular organisms 600 million years ago, to hominids emerging in Africa around 20 million years ago.
Earth evolves from blobs of land, to supercontinent Pangea and eventually to the continents we have today and it’s really amazing to see. According to Webster, the visualizations should be seen as approximations even though the plate tectonic models return precise results.
Webster wrote in a comment on Hacker News : “I’m amazed that geologists collected enough data to actually plot my home 750 [million] years ago, so I thought you all would enjoy it too.”
“Obviously we will never be able to prove correctness. In my tests I found that model results can vary significantly. I chose this particular model because it is widely cited and covers the greatest length of time.”
sources used: educateinspirechange.org