The first flat map of the World

The Ptolemy world map is a map of the known world to Hellenistic society in the 2nd century CE. It was based on the description contained in Ptolemy’s book Geographia, written c. 150. Although authentic maps have never been found, the Geographia contains thousands of references to various parts of the old world, with coordinates for most, which allowed cartographers to reconstruct Ptolemy’s world view when the manuscript was re-discovered around 1300 CE.

Perhaps the most significant contribution of Ptolemy and his maps is the first uses of longitudinal and latitudinal lines and the specifying of terrestrial locations by celestial observations. When his Geographia was translated from Greek into Arabic in the 9th century and subsequently into Latin in Western Europe at the beginning of the 15th century, the idea of a global coordinate system revolutionized medieval Islamic and European geographical thinking and put it upon a scientific and numerical basis.

Hidden rain-forest discovered on Google

Dr. Julian Bayliss at Mount Mabu. Photo by FFI
Dr. Julian Bayliss at Mount Mabu. Photo by FFI

“If you close your eyes and think about exploration, what images are conjured up in your mind? A Victorian gentleman perhaps, bedecked with khaki overalls, explorer’s hat and an extravagant moustache. You probably would not imagine someone sitting at a computer, intently focused on Google Earth,” Sarah Rakowski from Fauna & Flora writes on the organization’s website. But as it turns out, that is exactly how the forest on Mount Mabu, Mozambique, was discovered.

Discovered in 2005 and often referred to as the Google forest, this giant rain-forest in the mountainous north of Mozambique was known only to local villagers; it did not feature on maps nor, it is believed, in scientific collections or literature.

Using Google Earth, Dr. Julian Bayliss discovered the hidden rain-forest and more than a dozen new plant and animal species. But for Dr. Bayliss and the Fauna & Flora organization, the journey is far from over. Their team is currently working together with the government in Mozambique to create a long term conservation strategy that will protect Mount Mabu and benefit the local community.