Time traveling iNaturalist

If you don’t like crazy hypotheticals then read no further!

If you could back in time to any time EVER, where and when would you go and what would you hope to add to iNaturalist?


A trust from the money I made by going back in time and investing in stock markets. :)

Mind you I would keep most of the money. :)


Ice Age North America before the megafauna went extinct. Mammoths, ground sloths, etc.


I’d choose toward the end of the 19th century in the US to see the American chestnut and the passenger pigeon as well as some species that are now hard to find like the regal fritillary and the rusty-patched bumble bee.


There are two places I’d like to get to before human arrival – the Hawaiian Islands (all of them) and Mauritius. Dodos, bunches of honeycreepers, flightless owls…


And lots of species we probably don’t know about too right?

I hope this article is open access, I can’t tell if it is:


Cretaceous Antarctica would be pretty high on my list.


Damn! Now we’re talking. What was there? Crazy dinosaurs?

I’m not sure whether your GPS would work… ;-)

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Some limitations may have to be set, because obviously survival (oxygen, food, water) are different at different periods in history. There’s a lot of birds I wish I could see (south island kokako, passenger pigeon, and so forth), especially on the Pacific islands. But even 10 years ago a lot of species were way more common.

Obviously prehistoric things are neat, and probably high on the wishlist, way more than anything in recent history.


California in 1491


All you silly Americans (meant in gentle terms so please take that way) who think Europeans got to North America in 1492 :upside_down_face:

They were up here 500 years before that.


The pre colonial Europeans weren’t screwing everything up (at least ecologically). And probably didn’t make it to the west coast. No doubt Polynesians occasionally came by but they didn’t seem to stick around either. What I’m trying to get before is colonization etc.


Yeah, I’d love to go snorkling in the Cambrian (assuming I wasn’t attacked by Anomalocaridids, had to look that up: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anomalocaridid).

But it’s almost TOO far back. Everything would be so weird it would almost meaningless like dreaming.


Some time with plesiosaurs and pterosaurs, so I can see how they heck they moved around.

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I wouldn’t mind going back to La Jolla, California in 1970/71 when I first lived there, and also in Pacific Beach, but this time taking with me my cell phone and the internet. I guess if I ran into myself, the 22 year-old me wouldn’t recognize the 71 year-old me, so that would not be a problem! I would have to make up something to explain what the cell phone was – I suppose I could claim it was an ultra-compact European camera…


For places affected by the sixth mass extinction:

Australia, New Caledonia, and Fiji prior to human arrival (to see the sylviornithids, giant iguanas, saltwater gharials, terrestrial crocodiles, Meiolania, Megalania, pig-footed bandicoots, and other unique wildlife, and also to see an unspoiled Great Barrier Reef)

Closer in time would be the Great Plains and Midwestern US during the 1870s to see the huge flocks of everything: passenger pigeons, Rocky Mountain locusts, eskimo curlews, etc.

Other points in time:

The Appalachian Mountains during any point in the Mesozoic Era, preferably Jurassic. Given the rocks in the area, there is almost no little fossil record aside from a very few Ordovician fossils on the western side of the mountains. What dinosaurs lived here?

Anywhere during the Mid Triassic - There were a lot of bizarre evolutionary innovations during this time (longisquama, nothosaurs, phytosaurs, tanystropheus), as it was basically the main point of the evolutionary arms race to fill in the gap left by the Permian extinction.

China during the mid Jurassic - To see Yi qi in life.


I’ve always wanted to know what species were dominant in Californian grasslands before all this mediterranean annual grass got here. In fact there’s a whole book about it.



It’s a little known fact us Canadians got our renowned politeness as a result of our Viking past.


It’s true, eh

Back then Antarctica was still a part of East Gondwana. It was covered in dense evergreen forests, but like today it still had a day/night cycle of around six months. I would love to study the unique adaptations that organisms would need to survive in a world that was always day or always night, and the Cretaceous also happens to be (arguably) the most ecologically productive period in Earth’s history.

See also: https://paleobiodb.org/navigator/

Re: GPS - I don’t use one anyways. :P