Google has devised a way for aspiring paleontologists (and other dinosaur fans) to explore a version of Earth in which dinosaurs and sea dragons roam free. “Starting today, anyone, anywhere can explore this world on Google Arts & Culture,” the Silicon Valley company wrote in a blog post announcement. “We’ve partnered with 50+ of the world’s leading natural history institutions to bring this lost world to life again online. More than 150 interactive stories from experts, 300,000 new photos and videos, and more than 30 virtual tours await you.”
While having a virtual reality headset like a Google Cardboard (or something fancier like a Gear VR) would help you make the most of the new experience, all you really need to take advantage of the land before time is a computer or smartphone (both iOS and Android will do). “With just a few clicks, you can come face to face with a 180-million-year-old giant, as virtual reality raises the colossal sea dragon from extinction,” said Google. “Discovered in Dorset in the U.K. and residing at London’s Natural History Museum, the Rhomaleosaurus — to give it its formal name — can now be explored in 360 degrees.”
Dinosaur skeletons and fossils have been brought to life through work Google did alongside ecologists, paleontologists, and biologists to “put virtual skin and flesh” on these prehistoric bones. “From the size of the eye to the position of the snout and the bend of the neck, the texture and creases of the skin were all painstakingly recreated, and verified by a team of scientists,” Google wrote.
And even if you’re not an ancient reptile fanatic, you’ll likely find something in this new Google Arts & Culture exhibit that piques your interest. The project also includes the origins of the solar system; the story of Martha, the last passenger pigeon; and the giant sloth jaw credited with leading Darwin to his theory of natural selection.
So if you can’t make it to a museum this weekend, don’t worry. All you need is Google and your armchair to explore an ancient world.