Ancient Earth, the the brainchild of Ian Webster, is an interactive tools that enables users to hone in on a specific location and visualize how it has evolved between the Cryogenian Period and the present
Users can input a specific address or more generalized region, such as a state or country, and then choose a date ranging from zero to 750 million years ago. Currently, the map offers 26 timeline options, traveling back from the present to the Cryogenian Period at intervals of 15 to 150 million years.
According to Gizmodo’s George Dvorsky, Ancient Earth includes an array of helpful navigational features, including toggle display options related to globe rotation, lighting and cloud coverage. Brief descriptions of chosen time periods pop up on the bottom left side of the screen, while a dropdown menu at the top right allows users to jump to specific milestones in history, from the arrival of Earth’s first multicellular organisms some 600 million years ago to early hominids’ relatively belated emergence around 20 million years ago.
To switch from one time period to another, you can either manually choose from a dropdown menu or use your keyboard’s left and right arrow keys. Start at the very beginning of the map’s timeline, Michele Debczak advises for Mental Floss, and you’ll see the planet evolve from “unrecognizable blobs of land” to the massive supercontinent of Pangea and, finally, the seven continents we inhabit today.
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