Even though plate tectonic models return precise results, you should consider the plots approximate (obviously we will never be able to prove correctness). In my tests I found that model results can vary significantly. I chose this particular model because it is widely cited and covers the greatest length of time.
The visualization itself is open source, though I have not yet cleaned up and pushed the plate tectonics integration (working on that right now): https://github.com/typpo/ancient-earth
Does this mean that the data from gplates doesn't support that theory? Or is that just an artifact of how things were put together for this project?
Nonetheless, cool project!
That said, I think there is artistic license taken, and the wet Mediterranean might be an oversight or even a statement by the artist (I've gotten emails from angry geologists because the globe does not advance one theory or another). Part of Scotese's work also predates some of the research on this topic.
It would certainly be more accurate to show a simple plate diagram rather than an artistic version of the Earth, and it would make my life easier too because then I could show continuous plate movement for each year. But there is a certain thrill in seeing ancient earth all globe-like, so I stand by my choice to use these rasters :)
> Even though precise results are returned by the plate tectonic models, the locations are still approximate [...]. In my tests I found that model results can vary significantly.
One challenge with science education content is to avoid nurturing rich ecologies of misconceptions... to the degree possible given resource constraints and conflicting objectives. So here are some random brainstormy ideas.
Add small inserts with different plate models? To reduce the implied certainty. Uncertainty is usually handled poorly in science education, with unfortunate results for education and society. Perhaps pixelate the globe?
The false colors represent elevation (EDIT: no, Scotese's hand-drawn sort-of-elevation maps), not biome. So "green map" may represent a long-term tan desert. Perhaps choose a less pretty but 'less likely to be misinterpreted as biomes' colorization? Maybe as an option? A biome map would be great to have... but at least as of some years ago, it didn't seem anyone was attempting unified paleobiome map models. It seemed more lack of incentive than lack of data, at least for some periods.
Sea level and coastline position varies at high frequency. 12k years ago, the shortest walk from Boston to the sea, was due south past Long Island. A color scheme that deemphasized the coast would allow coastline variation to be averaged/blurred.
Cloud coverage and patters vary greatly across time. Pretty clouds over Pangean desert made me smile. Perhaps explicitly call them "Bogus Clouds"? :) Science education content frequently shows bogus things. Rather than difficult reform, simply becoming more transparent/honest and comfortable with calling them bogus might be a relatively easy but significant cultural improvement.
The star field is missing long-term features, like a visible galactic disk. Having a higher-density star map might also usefully obscure that the set of bright stars is changing. Or perhaps just another "Bogus" label? They're really quite handy. :)
If anyone has time on their hands, it might be neat to attempt a more principled representation. Perhaps realistic appearance, averaged over a few My? Average cloud cover maps are less pretty than weather, but plausible long-term ones might be derived from relatively simple paleoclimate models. Similarly for biomes.
Paleoglobes are traditionally very misleading. As we move forward, it could be nice to improve on that.
My view is that there's a balance to be struck here. A pixelated globe with blurred coastlines and averaged features full of "bogus" disclaimers would not get the same reception as what I posted here. It would be less likely to be used as a teaching tool and less inspiring to students.
The very least I can do, though, is be clear about what this visualization is and isn't. I spent some time expanding creating a Credits modal yesterday (instead of an alert box) and will use that space to add more of this information and disclaimers.
The title implies I can type in my address, but on mobile I can't find anywhere to do that.
There are about 90 maps for different time periods, many more than displayed on the globe.
You may also be interested in https://paleobiodb.org/navigator/, which is an excellent web tool that is geared toward scientists, and therefore displays paleogeography more cleanly and diagram-like.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uLahVJNnoZ4 is pretty cool
Nor does this model. Anyone know enough about geology to explain why? Is it because rivers are not represented at all?
Update: found this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uLahVJNnoZ4
1. Can you add the number of years ago (eg. 100,000, 1M, 20M, 200M) next to the periods in the dropdown for those not familiar with it.
2. Can you simulate the changes automatically so it evolves?
Like the idea though - will try later from desktop.