Is there a name for the obscure, but strangely alluring hobby of spotting animal shapes in geographic features (*)? Previously discussed examples on this blog of the as yet unnamed pastime are the Animals on the Underground (#119) and the Ontario Elephant (#340). Here is one that I would like to call the Afro-Latinosaurus Rex.

It is no coincidence that the continents of Africa and South America resemble two interlocking pieces of a puzzle (Brazil’s northeastern hump and Africa’s Gulf of Guinea are a particularly good fit). Some 170 million years ago, before continental drift pushed them apart, South America and Africa were united in an ancient supercontinent called Gondwanaland.

This sequence of maps reverses the drift that continues to widen the Atlantic Ocean, and returns to the age of the dinosaurs in another way. By overlapping South America and Africa, it creates a siamese continent, but also, if turned 90 degrees to the left, a convincing approximation of a dino’s head.

The narrow southern strip of South America shared by Chile and Argentina is the beast’s lower jaw, Africa’s southern part its upper jaw. The big, blunt bulk of West Africa is the animal’s neck. Lake Victoria, the greatest of African lakes, doubles as the menacing eye of the Afro-Latinosaurus…


Many thanks to Daryl K. Putman, Timothy Vowles, James Bisset, Mark and a few others for sending in this map, found here.

Strange Maps #420

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*: a somewhat similar activity, a discipline of divination, is called nephomancy: the ability to interpret shapes of clouds.