#GoogleEarth #Discoveries – 5 incredible discoveries made using Google Earth : Many of us would be lost without Google Maps. We take it for granted but if you stop to think about it, being able to instantly view nearly any place on Earth is a great technical achievement. It’s useful for getting around and finding places to eat, but Google Earth and Maps have also been used to make amazing discoveries.
According to many media outlets, a 15-year-old Canadian schoolboy, William Gadoury, has discovered a lost Mayan city using Google Maps and a star chart. He has a theory that the locations of Mayan cities correlate with stars.
The Canadian Space Agency turned its RADARSAT-2 satellite to check a location where he predicted a city and found a square. It’s likely an old field but various news sources have decided that it’s a lost Mayan city.
He’s named it Mouth of Fire but there’s no actual evidence that it’s a city. Of course, that doesn’t mean great discoveries can’t be made and we have a few favourites. Here are 5 incredible discoveries made using Google Earth.
1. An ancient Roman villa
One of the earliest archeological discoveries using Google Earth happened the year it was launched. Luca Mori, an Italian programmer, was using the app in 2005 to look around his home town of Sorbolo near Parma.
He spotted a strange oval shape of terrain that had a different shade compared to the surrounding land. He also spotted various “rectangle shadows” nearby. He began to trace his findings to make sense of them. What he discovered was an ancient river and the remains of a man-made structure of some sort.
Mori contacted the National Archaeological Museum of Parma and they thought it looked like the courtyard of an ancient villa. They set out to investigate the site and confirmed the existence of the ancient villa. At the site they discovered evidence including pieces of ceramic that lead them to conclude that it was a Roman villa over a thousand years old.
2. A lost rainforest
These days you would think biologists know of all the best places to look for animals and plants. A few hundred years ago people were still sailing to undiscovered lands and reporting back on new species. Today, we can see just about anywhere on the globe from our laptops.
Surely there’s nothing new to discover? Apparently not. As part of the Darwin Initiative, British researchers were using Google Earth when it first launched to find mountains over 1,500 m that were close to Mount Mulanje.
The idea was to find similarities between different patches of medium altitude rainforest. At one mountain in Mozambique, Mount Mabu, they spotted a large green patch. What they had found was a huge, unspoiled rainforest that was entirely unknown to the scientific community.
The 27-square-mile forest was known to locals but nobody had explored it because of the surrounding terrain and the civil war. Since the discovery of the “Google Forest”, biologists have explored it and found an ecological treasure trove.
It’s an old-growth rainforest meaning it’s ancient and undisturbed, leading it to acquire unique ecological niches and species. Biologists have found many animals and plants totally unknown to science including snakes, chameleons, crabs, shrews, bats, and lots of insects (as usual).