Earth was a completely different planet 240 million years ago. Back then we had Pangea, a mashup of a supercontinent formed by older continental units and surrounded by water. Then, around 175 million years ago, magma pushed this landmass’s tectonic plates in different directions, slowly forming the continents we know today. The website Ancient Earth lets you see how they moved, and perhaps more importantly, pinpoint where your current apartment would have been located on this early version of our familiar planet, now eons past.
Ancient Earth is a tool hosted by the organization Dinosaur Pictures (which is, incidentally, my new favorite website ever) and recently uncovered by Kottke. It’s maintained by engineer Ian Webster, who previously worked at Google on local search quality, while its tectonic and paleogeographic maps were created by C.R. Scotese of the Paleomap Project, an organization dedicated to visualizing how tectonic plates developed as well as how the land changed as the modern continents formed. That means that you can trust this globe to tell where your home was located when the first vertebrate appeared on our Pale Blue Dot or when dinosaurs started to roam the Earth.
The tool allows you to pick a moment in time by selecting from two pull-down menus. One will let you choose a set number of millions of years ago, ranging from 750 million to today. The other will let you pick a significant biological event, like “first cellular life.” Another field lets you add your current address. Hit enter, wait a few seconds, and a blinking dot will pinpoint where your house was located roughly 240 million years ago, up to the present. For instance, 750 million years ago, Midtown Manhattan was at the center of a vast, icy continent: “Glaciers may have covered the entire planet during the greatest ice age known on Earth,” the site explains. When dinosaurs ruled the planet, 150 million years ago, Paris was part of a landmass that was only barely beginning to look like continental Europe. Ninety million years ago, Denver was on the edge of an ocean that cut through modern-day North America.
Fun fact: Mar-a-Lago has always been a swamp–and L.A. traffic has always been crap. True story, folks.