Interactive map of Earth shows where your home was 500 million years ago

London as it was in the Middle Triassic 220 million years ago (Ancient Earth)
London as it was in the Middle Triassic 220 million years ago. (Ancient Earth)

Over the course of Earth’s four billion-year history, things have moved around rather a lot – including the continents of today.

An online interactive map shows exactly where your hometown has wandered over the course of hundreds of millions of years of continental drift.

Created by California palaeontologist Ian Webster in a web application, the map is based on geological models created by Christopher Stoese, CNN reported.

It allows users to “travel back in time” by pre-set increments, such as to when the first vertebrates appeared, or the first green algae.

You can try the map yourself at Ancient Earth.

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London when the first shells emerged 540 million years ago (Ancient Earth)
London when the first shells emerged 540 million years ago. (Ancient Earth)

Users can rotate the globe to see the shape of all the continents, and get brief guides to what creatures were alive on Earth at that time (if any).

For instance, for the Middle Triassic, 220 million years ago, it says: “The Earth is recovering from the Permian-Triassic extinction. Small dinosaurs begin to appear. Therapsids and archosaurs emerge, along with the first flying vertebrates.”

London, for instance, has sat on unrecognisable continents and huge land masses, before splitting off into the island we recognise today.

It’s part of a natural cycle, scientists say, where the tectonic plates come together into a supercontinent that then breaks up again.

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The last time it happened, a supercontinent known as Pangaea formed about 310 million years ago, before breaking up about 180 million years ago.

In an interview this week, Webster told CNN: “It shows that our environment is dynamic and can change.

“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.

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“My software ‘geocodes’ the user's location and then uses (Scotese's) models to run their location backwards in time.

“I built the interactive globe visualisation and the geocoding and GPates integration myself so that people could plug in their own locations."

In about 250 million years time, another supercontinent will form, scientists believe.

The future continent could take several shapes: Novopangea, Pangaea Ultima, Aurica and Amasia.

In one scenario, America and Antarctica could collide, forming together into one ‘supercontinent’ along with the other continents of our planet.

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