The Global Paleo-Distribution of Life 120 Ma

Post date: May 29, 2011 10:43:23 PM

We will be doing a simple habitability analysis of Earth in the last 750 million years as part of the Visible Paleo-Earth (VPE) project. We are using the fossil record from the Paleobiology Database to visualize the global distribution of mayor life forms of the ancient Earth. The fossil record is very fragmented both spatially and temporally, but it gives a general idea of the suitability for life of past terrestrial environments. Here are two test visualizations for the Early Cretaceous Period (120 Ma) with the occurrence locations for animals and plants (both terrestrial and marine records). The modern map (Fig. 1) shows the location of the fossil excavation sites while the 120 Ma map (Fig. 2) shows their past location. The actual shown fossil data corresponds to the time intervals between 130 to 110 Ma so their location is just an estimate for 120 Ma. The habitability analysis will be discussed in a later post including the visualization for all the periods in the VPE.

Figure 1. Excavation location of the fossil record of the Early Cretaceous Period (120 Ma) for animals and plants (terrestrial and marine). Data from the Paleobiology Database.

Figure 2. General location of animals and plants (terrestrial and marine) based on the fossil record during the Early Cretaceous Period (120 Ma). Data from the Paleobiology Database.