Mother Earth in her 4.5 billion years old history has undergone quite a few changes. Today, we recognize seven continents, but 240 million years ago, there was just one – a giant landmass called Pangea. It is one of three supercontinents (the others being Nuna or Columbia, and Rodinia) that have graced the Earth at some point or another, and it’s unlikely to be the last. Geologists believe there is a regular (if slow) supercontinent cycle, which sees landmasses routinely break up and smash back together again over millions and billions of years. In fact, experts predict the next supercontinent will form sometime in the next 50 to 200 million years – and they are calling it Amasia.
Ian Webster, a computer scientist working for the asteroid database Asterank in Mountain View, California. Webster developed a digital 3D globe “Ancient Earth” using data from GPlates that lets you see how exactly the world has changed over the last 750 million years.
This program gives you the option of typing in your address to see where it would have been 750 million years ago up until any time today. That includes the Ediacaran Period 600 million years ago – when multicellular life was only just starting to appear in the world’s oceans, the Devonian Period 400 million years ago – when insects and tetrapods ran the show and the Jurassic Period 170 million years ago. If you want to see what the Earth looked like when insects first appeared on the scene or the dinosaurs met their sticky end, you can. There is a drop-down menu that lets you jump to standout events like the “first multicellular life“, the “first land plants“, and the “first hominids“.
600 million years ago – the first multicellular life: The first inklings of multicellular life starts to emerge in the sea during the Ediacaran Period.
430 million years ago – first land plants: Skip almost 200 million years into the future and the first land plants emerge on the coastlines. It follows a mass extinction event that wiped out close to half of marine life.
20 million years ago – first hominids: The first hominids evolved incredibly recently, geologically speaking. While birds and other mammals continued to evolve into their modern forms, the very earliest hominids were emerging in Africa.