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Interactive Map Plots Where Every Known Fossil Was Discovered

Curious to see who your neighbors would have been 100 million years ago? The answer can be found in this interactive map spotted by Popular Mechanics. Compiled using information from the Paleobiology Database, the graphic plots fossils uncovered by paleontologists around the world.

The scientists maintaining the database have cataloged a massive amount of fossil discoveries, and they eventually hope to include every fossil ever found. On the website, 350,442 taxa from seven continents spanning more than 500 million years are already represented.

"[A] major challenge has been in just gathering all the published data in the first place," Matthew Carrano, a long-time Paleobiology Database contributor and curator of Dinosauria at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History told mental_floss. "There’s no central place to get it, so I’ve spent a lot of time in the library, looking for papers, reading them, and extracting relevant information and putting it into this online database. We won’t know when we’re done until we stop finding new papers and new reports of dinosaur fossils—and 17 years in, that hasn’t happened yet."

Fortunately, the map makes it simple to sift through all that data. Users can search for a fossil by era, the layer of earth or stratum it was found in, or by specific taxonomy. Zooming in on a certain region displays the location of every fossil discovered in that area. Fossils range from mollusks and arthropods to mammals and tyrannosaurs.

The tool also gives users the option to switch from a modern view of the world to how it looked at any point in the past half-billion years. "It’s extremely comprehensive, but we’re not quite done yet," Carrano said. "New dinosaurs are being discovered every year, to the tune of a new species every month or two."

Whether you want to stick to your backyard or explore fossil discoveries around the globe, you can do it all from the Paleobiology Database's navigator map.

[h/t Popular Mechanics]

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LEGO
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New LEGO Set Recreates Jurassic Park's Iconic Velociraptor Chase Scenes
LEGO
LEGO

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, the fifth installment in the Jurassic Park franchise, is skulking into theaters on June 22. That makes now the perfect time to revisit the original film in LEGO form.

This LEGO set, spotted by Nerdist, depicts some of the most suspenseful scenes from the 1993 movie. There's the main computer room where Ariana Richards's Lex shows off her hacker skills while Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) struggle to keep a hungry dinosaur from barging in. Just like in the film, the door features a deadbolt lock that's velociraptor-proof (though, unfortunately for the characters, the detachable window is not). Other Easter eggs hidden in this part include a map of Isla Nublar and a screener saver of LEGO Dennis Nedry (Wayne Knight).

In the neighboring room, you'll find the cold storage unit where the dinosaur embryos are kept, along with the fake shaving cream can Nedry uses to steal them. The final section is the kitchen, where Tim (Joseph Mazzello) and Lex are stalked by the velociraptor. There's less room for them to hide in the LEGO version compared to the movie set, but there is at least one functioning cabinet for Lex to tuck herself into. Closer inspection reveals even more details from the film, like the lime-green Jello Lex is eating when the raptors first arrive and the step ladder the gang uses to escape into the air ducts during the final chase.

LEGO Jurassic Park set.

LEGO Jurassic Park set.

LEGO Jurassic Park set.

The Jurassic Park Velociraptor Chase set is currently available from the LEGO shop for $40.

[h/t Nerdist]

All images courtesy of LEGO.

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CHLOE EFFRON / DINOSAURS: ISTOCK
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science
Why Are There No More Dinosaurs?
CHLOE EFFRON / DINOSAURS: ISTOCK
CHLOE EFFRON / DINOSAURS: ISTOCK

WHY? is our attempt to answer all the questions every little kid asks. Do you have a question? Send it to why@mentalfloss.com.

Actually, there are still dinosaurs: Birds! But let’s talk about that a little later. Scientists have found clues in rocks and fossils that tell us that by 65 million years ago, the climate (CLY-met), or usual weather, of the Earth had changed a lot, becoming cooler and drier. That was hard on the heat-loving dinosaurs. But that’s not why almost all of the dinosaurs became extinct, or disappeared forever. Scientists think a terrible event occurred that killed them off.

In 1991, scientists discovered a huge 110-mile-long crater, or hole, in the Gulf of Mexico. They think this crater was made by a giant, fiery, 6-mile-wide asteroid (AST-er-oyd) from space that smashed into the Earth about 65 million years ago. The impact was more powerful than any bomb we have ever known. Scientists believe this event killed most plant and animal life—including the dinosaurs. The asteroid probably caused shockwaves, earthquakes, fireballs, wildfires, and tidal, or really big, waves. It also sent huge amounts of dust and gas into the atmosphere, which is like a big blanket of air that surrounds the Earth. That was really bad for the planet.

The dust blocked sunlight, making the planet very cold and dark. Then, over time, the gases trapped heat, causing the Earth to get even hotter than it was before the asteroid hit. This change was deadly for most dinosaurs, and they became extinct. But birds survived. Many millions of years earlier, they had evolved (ee-VOL-ved), or changed slowly over time, from one group of dinosaurs. And when the dinosaurs disappeared, mammals diversified (die-VERSE-uh-fide), or changed, into many different kinds of animals—including us, many millions of years later. So the next time you see a bird swoop by, wave hello to the little flying dinosaur!    


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