About Pangaea

Pangaea, the supercontinent.

300 million years ago, the earth looked a bit different than it does now. The earth’s continents were once part of a huge, undivided landmass called Pangaea. About 200 million years ago, Pangaea started breaking apart into separate continents. Scientists call this phenomenon continental drift.

Scientists look to both the fossil record and geological features for evidence of Pangaea. Scientists have found fossils of identical species on continents that are now many thousands of miles apart. How did they get there? If South America and Africa we once connected, for example, the distribution of these fossils makes a lot more sense, as it tells us that the species originally lived in the same area.

Far-away continents also share distinct geographical features. The same mountain chain extends from the eastern United States to Ireland, Britain, Greenland, and Scandinavia. Scientists know this because they contain the same core samples. This adds more proof to the hypothesis that these landmasses were once connected.

Scientists suspect that the coming together and breaking apart of supercontinents like Pangaea is cyclical, meaning that there were several supercontinents prior to the formation of Pangaea. This also suggests that, given enough years, our current configuration of continents will coalesce into another supercontinent—and eventually break apart.

The world is a diverse, complex place. I really do believe that, for all our differences, the forces and customs that connect us to one another are stronger than the forces and customs that pull us apart. This space, if not exactly an effort to make the continents whole again, is at least an effort to bring them closer together.

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