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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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Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain
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science
Feathers, Fighting, and Feet: A Brief History of Dinosaur Art
Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain
Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

One of the first-known works of dinosaur art was The country of the Iguanodon, an 1837 watercolor by John Martin. It depicts the ancient reptiles as giant iguanas, thrashing and fighting near a stone quarry—a far cry from today's sophisticated 3D renderings.

By watching the PBS Eons video below, you can learn how our image of dinosaurs has changed over the centuries, thanks to artworks based on new scientific discoveries and fossil findings. Find out why artists decided to give the prehistoric creatures either feathers or scales, make them either active or sluggish, present them as walking on two or four feet, and to imagine tails that either dragged or lifted, among other features.

Keep in mind, however, that both emerging technologies and new findings are constantly changing the way scientists view dinosaurs. A new species, on average, is named every two weeks—and this research will likely keep artists busy (and constantly revising their work) for years to come.

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Pop Chart Lab
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Design
Epic Poster Features Over 100 Hand-Drawn Illustrations of Dinosaurs
Pop Chart Lab
Pop Chart Lab

Paleontologists are constantly discovering new dinosaurs (or questioning whether beloved species ever existed in the first place), so it's hard to keep track of every dino that ever existed. But if you want an up-to-date catalogue of the most significant beasts from the Triassic to the Cretaceous periods, this taxonomy poster from Pop Chart Lab is tough to beat.

Titled Dinosauria, the chart organizes more than 700 genera of dinosaurs into one easy-to-read infographic. All of the standard favorites are represented, like Triceratops and T. Rex, as well as some more obscure or newly discovered prehistoric reptiles like Conchoraptor and Psittacosaurus. Pop Chart Lab pulled its data from the most current classification systems, even including research published just this year that unifies ornithischians with theropods.


The 100 hand-drawn illustrations and accompanying taxonomic timeline took over 500 hours of research to design. Hanging it on your wall at home requires a lot less effort: You can order a 24-inch-by-36-inch print for $37 from Pop Chart Lab’s online store.

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