NASA slowly drains the oceans in an incredible animation, revealing hidden underwater mountain ranges and ancient land bridges
- A NASA animation drains the oceans to reveal the majority of Earth's surface that lies beneath.
- A planetary scientist remade the video to highlight its most fascinating features: the world's longest mountain range and the Ice Age land bridges that ancient humans crossed.
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Oceans cover most of the Earth, including its longest mountain range and the ancient bridges that humans crossed to reach other continents.In a recent remake of a 2008 NASA video, planetary scientist James O'Donoghue shows what it would look like if all that water drained away, revealing the hidden three-fifths of Earth's surface
Here's his slow-motion version:
As the oceans slowly lose water, the first bits of hidden land that emerge are the continental shelves - the undersea edges of each continent."I slowed down the start since, rather surprisingly, there's a lot of undersea landscape instantly revealed in the first tens of meters," O'Donoghue told Business Insider in an email.The continental shelves include some of the land bridges that early humans crossed as they migrated from continent to continent. Tens of thousands of years ago, our ancestors could walk from continental Europe to the UK, from Siberia to Alaska, and from Australia to the islands surrounding it.
"When the last ice age occurred, a lot of ocean water was locked up as ice at the poles of the planet. That's why land bridges used to exist," O'Donoghue said. "Each of these links enabled humans to migrate, and when the ice age ended, the water sort of sealed them in."
By removing that water, the animation offers a glimpse at the world of our ancient ancestors.It also shows Earth's longest chain of mountains, which appears once the sea levels have dropped 2,000 to 3,000 meters. That's the mid-ocean ridge, which stretches over 37,000 miles across the globe. Over 90% of it is underwater.
The volcanic mountains spring up at the seams where Earth's tectonic plates inch away from each other, creating new ocean floor as molten rock rises from beneath the plant's crust.
He added that emptying the seas unearths not only "not only the ocean bottom, but also the ancient story of humanity."
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