What the world will look like in the year 250,002,018

This is what the world will look like, 250 million years from now

Pangaea Proxima, the next supercontinent, will come into being 250 million years from now
On Pangaea Proxima, Lagos will be north of New York, and Cape Town close to Mexico City

To us humans, the shape and location of oceans and continents seems fixed. But that's only because our lives are so short.


If our existence spanned hundreds of millions of years instead of just a handful of decades, we would see land masses constantly merge and break up again, their dance around the earth powered by a near-continuous orgy of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

For at least a few times already, all of our planet's dry bits have come together to form a single, giant island in a single, giant sea. Roughly 200 million years ago, Pangaea was the last iteration of this recurring supercontinent (1). That deep history will repeat itself. In another 250 million years, we'll have the next supercontinent. We've already got the name: Pangaea Proxima.

Here's what our world will look like at that time: the Americas attached to Africa in the north and Antarctica in the south; Africa slammed into Europe and the Middle East; and Australia welded to Asia's east. The giant continent is centred around the remains of the Indian Ocean, now an interior sea mirroring the former Mediterranean, with a boot-like India posing as a replacement Italy.

Where continents have collided, new mountain ranges have arisen. The world's new high point is no longer located in the Himalayas, but in the as yet unnamed range that has sprung up where Florida and Georgia have slammed into South Africa and Namibia.

It's unlikely that there will be any humans around to witness the reunification of the world's land masses – we'll be lucky to survive the next century, let alone the current millennium – but the map includes some present-day cities nevertheless, for your orientation.

Or more likely, for your disorientation. On Pangaea Proxima, Cape Town and Mexico City are just a day's drive apart. Lagos is to the north of New York, and both are close to the Atlantic Sea, the shrunken remnant of the former ocean. And you could travel from Sydney to Shanghai and on towards Tokyo without having to cross a single body of water.

Europe has attached itself to Africa, and Britain – Brexit notwithstanding – has rejoined Europe. One thing has remained reassuringly the same: New Zealand is still an isolated place, forever threatening to fall off the bottom right part of the map.


This map is featured in the new (July 2018) issue of National Geographic Magazine. More on that here. Thanks to Martin Foldager for sending it in.

Strange Maps #911

Got a strange map? Let me know at strangemaps@gmail.com.

(1) Earlier ones include Vaalbara, Ur, Kenorland, Rodinia, Pannotia and Gondwana.

Every 27.5 million years, the Earth’s heart beats catastrophically

Geologists discover a rhythm to major geologic events.

Credit: desertsolitaire/Adobe Stock
Surprising Science
  • It appears that Earth has a geologic "pulse," with clusters of major events occurring every 27.5 million years.
  • Working with the most accurate dating methods available, the authors of the study constructed a new history of the last 260 million years.
  • Exactly why these cycles occur remains unknown, but there are some interesting theories.
Keep reading Show less

Which countries are voyaging to Mars this decade?

We are likely to see the first humans walk on Mars this decade.

Mars's Twin Peaks

NASA
Technology & Innovation
  • Space agencies have successfully sent three spacecraft to Mars this year.
  • The independent missions occurred at around the same time because Earth and Mars were particularly close to each other last summer, providing an opportune time to launch.
  • SpaceX says it hopes to send a crewed mission to Mars by 2026, while the U.S. and China aim to land humans on the planet in the 2030s.
Keep reading Show less

How Apple and Nike have branded your brain

A new episode of "Your Brain on Money" illuminates the strange world of consumer behavior and explores how brands can wreak havoc on our ability to make rational decisions.

Apple logo

Vegefox.com via Adobe Stock
popular
  • Effective branding can not only change how you feel about a company, it can actually change how your brain is wired.
  • Our new series "Your Brain on Money," created in partnership with Million Stories, recently explored the surprising ways brands can affect our behavior.
  • Brands aren't going away. But you can make smarter decisions by slowing down and asking yourself why you're making a particular purchase.
Keep reading Show less
Sponsored by Singleton

How Apple and Nike have branded your brain

Powerful branding can not only change how you feel about a company, it can actually change how your brain is wired.

Quantcast