Mapping Google Doodle

Today's Google Doodle celebrates Abraham Ortelius, a cartographer who was significant in the development of the modern atlas.

Long before we were able to map the world and put it online, Abraham Ortelius made a lasting impact by collecting the latest information from scientists, geographers, and cartographers and transforming it into what the world now knows as the modern day atlas.

The atlas, titled Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (Theatre of the World), was first published on this day in 1570 and is significant for a couple reasons. Within these pages, we see the first evidence of someone imagining continental drift - the theory that continents were joined together before drifting apart to their present day positions. Flipping through the pages, you may also notice a sea monster or two in the water - these mythical creatures were a subject of fascination in Ortelius’ generation, and often appeared alongside the ever changing landscapes of the atlas maps.

As every atlas is an aggregation of many maps, Ortelius was also one of the first cartographers to consistently add sources and names to the creators of the original maps, as evidenced by the first map pictured in today’s animated Doodle. Adding his fellow scientists’ names to the atlas wasn’t just a professional courtesy - Ortelius was known for corresponding with prominent scientists and humanists from all over Europe, a practice that yielded much insight into the great thinkers of his time.

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