Has a bunch of comments by the author.
I have two suggestions, if the developer is seeing this:
- Mark the North and South poles. For someone unfamiliar with the past continental layouts, it's easy to get a bit disoriented . I would find a location on the globe, jump back in time, rotate the globe a bit to look around, then jump further back in time and then start to get disoriented as to where on earth the details I'm looking at are. Yes, you can figure it out, but I think it could be made much easier to do.
- Have a checkbox for overlaying the outlines of the present-day continents (in their present-day positions) over the globe. This would also help the user to orient what they're looking at.
I find it easy to tell where the poles are - that's where the cloud texture gets visibly broken :).
It kind of blew my mind that for most of dinosaurs, there was just a lot of leafs and ferns.
Here's some pictures for context (https://imgur.com/a/rE5wwc4), when you're out where most dino bones are found, you forget that it may have been a lush landscape of riverbeds approaching the ocean coastline, or that it may have been a dry arid desert landscape like in the land before time movies. Regardless, it's odd to imagine all of it, with no grass.
Sentient life could halt this process by burning limestone to release carbon. This is how cement is made.
In my mind this means that some infinitesimally small portion of the photons that fall on the earth every day were reflected from the earth ~50K years ago and sent in the direction of the black hole at the center of the Milky Way.
I sometimes wonder if we could build a telescope large enough to resolve these photons into an image of the earth from that time. This would likely require 5,000 years of technological development and construction, but it does seem like it's physically possible. (Maybe there's too much dust or distortion or background noise to actually pick out the signal, dunno)
We couldn't go back XXX million years, but maybe XX thousand?
I'm generally a moron in this area though so I'm certainly missing large swaths of information.
I'm too lazy to try the calculations now, but if the nearest black hole is 2800 ly away, I guess the size of lens to resolve a dinosaur have to be much bigger than the solar system. Probably a few light-year [calculation needed]. Does the lens reach Proxima Centaury? Does the lens collapse and form another black hole?
Also, the black holes are big, but they are more far away than big, so the angular size of the area that does some interesting lens effect is very small. Then even if you have a giant lens and collect all the light that the black hole has blended (more than 90° or something), you will get a extremely dim image. But photons are discrete, and visible photons have a minimal energy, so the image will be composed of a very small amount of dots, and not something smooth where you can see anything.
https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17286770 (59 comments, some from the author)
The native flora consists of a lot of ferns, and almost entirely evergreen plants. Flowers are uncommon and primitive, most plants are pollinated and spread by birds. The only native grasses are tussocks.
India became "an island" continent only almost 100 million years later than that.
Some geologists hold that dino extinction was caused by multiple factors including a meteor, volcanos, and a preceding general decline of the genus.
Does anyone have any recommendations for good resources that are approachable for non-scientists?
Some megafauna examples:
Megaloceros, the giant deer who had antlers 12 feet wide- https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irish_elk
Arctotherium, the largest bear and potentially the largest land carnivore, ever - https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arctotherium
Titanis, one of the largest carnivorous terror birds - https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Titanis
Megatherium, the giant, elephant sized sloth that dug gigantic burrows - https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Megatherium
Thylacoleo carnifex, the marsupial lion, and largest carnivorous marsupial in Australia - https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marsupial_lion
Camelops, a family of camels native to North America - https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camelops
Thylacosmilus, a Metatherian (similar to marsupial), Sabre toothed carnivore from South America - https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thylacosmilus
I looked up Scotland and 750 million years ago and there is a range of mountains to the North West. :-)
Incidentally, one of the cool things about the North West of Scotland is that the original landscape that was buried by the sandstone has been exposed in places.
Edit: I also seen to remember reading that the Brownstone buildings of New York are actually made from the same stone deposited on areas that ended up on the other side of the Atlantic when it split.
If you look at the ocean while you go back in time you can see large swaths that have very little detail. This is because that rock has been geologically recycled and is no longer part of the geologic record.
Perhaps the time could be represented as a video.
Draw a video frame to a canvas and use as a texture for the sphere. As the time is updated just play forward or backward to a video point and the texture would update.
Later I realized that the dinosaur-killing crater is much smaller and buried and hidden at the edge of the Gulf of Mexico. I also learned that the Gulf of Mexico was formed to due plate tectonics, not due to an impact. What an odd coincidence that the dinosaur-killing asteroid hit a location on the Earth that looks just like a huge crater, but isn't a crater at all.
There are numerous specialised atlases and globes. I've never run across a generalised mapping engine and dataset like this.
Wikipedia / Wikimedia have a number of map sets, that might be a place to start your search.
Plates which are separating let molten rock from the mantle up, where it cools hardens. Any rock which can be magnetised (iron) is aligned with the Earth's magnetic field when molten, and gets fixed that way. The magnetic field swaps every 10,000 years or so [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geomagnetic_reversal], so you get a stripey effect.
Working our more precised dates for the magnetic swaps is a matter of slow and painstaking correlation with other bits of evidence: dating of radioactive elements, tree rings, rock layers, the temperature of the Earth, composition of gas bubbles trapped in rock and ice.
Latitude when combined with geometric constraints of seafloor strips and correlated trans-ocean rock formations build the overall picture.
In addition the oldest seafloor is 220 million years old or 5% of Earths lifetime. Paleomag measurements go back ten times longer.
There may be tens of thousand of research papers behind each map shown in the OP. It is like solving a puzzle. At location X, Scientist A finds some clues in plate tectonics, Scientist B finds something in geochemistry, and Scientist C finds something in fossil records. Then they piece them together and if these stories all tell the same thing without a serious conflict, you can construct a point on that map. Now imagine doing this for thousands of different regions involving several generations of scientists, you get nice maps like these.
This Wikipedia page would be a nice read: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Earth.