Ever wanted to see what your back yard looked like 750 million years ago?

Hi everyone, we’re going to talk about a fun topic today – but hopefully one with teaching and research uses.

Have you ever looked at a picture of the supercontinent Pangea and wondered where your current address would have been 250 million years ago? A new online map provides this very service, allowing us to see modern locations across 750 million years of our planet’s history.  It’s like using Google Earth in a TARDIS!

This awesome 3D map is the invention of Ian Webster, curator of one of my favorite sites, Dinosaur Database. It defaults to 240 million years ago, when our planet was dominated by the giant Pangea supercontinent, and it makes little sense from our current perspective.  To overcome this, Webster overlays the map with modern political boundaries, and you can even search for present-day addresses to pinpoint specific locations. Using the left or right cursor keys, you can scroll back or forward in time to see the shifting of the continents. In all, the map goes from 750 million years ago to the 21st century, so you can watch how a specific location on Earth changes across the Devonian, Jurassic, Neocene, or whichever period strikes your fancy.

It’s got pride of place on a laptop in my office, with my house as it as 500 million years ago rotating serenely.  Technology can be a complicated, confusing and often dangerous thing – but sometimes it’s great to be reminded that it can also be a work of art and provoke us to experience moments of wonder and joy.

Ngā Mihi,