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Have you ever wanted to travel back in time? Well, now you can. Kind of.
Through a simulator called Ancient Earth, you can see a 3D globe rendering of Earth. The interactive globe allows you to enter the name of a town or city and see what it would’ve looked like (and what would’ve lived there) millions of years ago. You can see how that part of Earth changed from 20 million to 750 million years ago. So you can learn how Earth’s land masses and continents have shifted to look like they do today.
It also lists which fossils have been found in that geographic area, informing how scientists would know what was going on there so long ago. So this site lets you find out which dinosaur species were chilling in your neck of the woods. You can also jump to time periods when specific events happened, like when the first plants grew on Earth or the time of the dinosaur extinction.
Ancient Earth was created by Discord senior engineering manager Ian Webster. “It shows that our environment is dynamic and can change,” Webster told CNN in 2020. “The history of Earth is longer than we can conceive, and the current arrangement of plate tectonics and continents is an accident of time. It will be very different in the future, and Earth may outlast us all.”
The map works by taking data from Gplates, an open-source geoscience database, and matching it up with paleogeographic maps made with the PALEOMAPS project. The site superimposes maps using models made by Christopher Scotese, a paleographer and geologist. These models show tectonic plate movement over millions of years.
"I'm amazed that geologists collected enough data to actually plot my home 750M years ago," Webster said when he first released Ancient Earth.