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Pangaea (Greek for "all lands") is the supercontinent that existed during the Mesozoic era, before the
process of plate tectonics separated the component continents.
The name was coined by Alfred Wegener in 1915. When the continents first came together to form
Pangaea about 300 MYA, mountains were formed, and some of these ranges still exist, such as the
Appalachians, the Atlas Mountains, and the Urals. The vast ocean that surrounded Pang�a has been
named Panthalassa. Pangaea broke up about 180 million years ago.
Pangaea was a C-shaped landmass that spread across the equator. The body of water that existed within
the "C" has been named the Tethys Sea. Because Pangaea was so big, the inland was very dry due to
the lack of precipitation. The large continent would have allowed land animals to migrate all the way from
the South Pole to the North Pole.
The mantle under Pangaea's former location was still hot and trying to rise upward. As a result, Africa sat
several tens of meters higher than the other continents.
Pangaea was probably not the first "supercontinent." It's believed that Pannotia formed about 600 MYA
and split up 550 MYA. Also, Rodinia had formed approximately 1,100 MYA and divided 750 MYA.
During the Jurassic period, Pangaea broke into two parts: a southern part, Gondwana, and a northern
part, Laurasia. (
Evidence of existence (
Fossil evidence for Pangaea includes the presence of similar and identical species on continents that are
now great distances apart. For example, fossils of the therapsid Lystrosaurus have been found in Gandu,
South Africa, India and Australia, alongside members of the Glossopteris flora, whose distribution would
have ranged from the polar circle to the equator if the continents had been in their present position;
similarly, the freshwater reptile Mesosaurus has only been found in localized regions of the coasts of
Brazil and West Africa.[5]
Additional evidence for Pangaea is found in the geology of adjacent continents, including matching
geological trends between the eastern coast of South America and the western coast of Africa.
The polar ice cap of the Carboniferous Period covered the southern end of Pangaea. Glacial deposits,
specifically till, of the same age and structure are found on many separate continents which would have
been together in the continent of Pangaea.[6]
Apparent polar wandering paths also support the theory of a super-continent. Geologists can determine
the movement of continental plates by examining the orientation of magnetic minerals in rocks; when
rocks are formed, they take on the magnetic properties of the Earth and indicate in which direction the
poles lie relative to the rock. Because we know that the poles do not move more than a few degrees,
magnetic anomalies in rocks can only be explained by the drifting of continents.
The continuity of mountain chains also provide evidence for Pangea. One example of this is the
Appalachian Mountains chain which extends from the northeastern United States to the Caledonides of
Ireland, Britain, Greenland, and Scandinavia.[7]
Social Studies
Mrs. Campbell
(Better known as Continental Drift)
Label each of the continents (images shown are not to scale!!)
Cut the continents out
Try to fit them together as they may have been millions of years ago
Glue them onto a blue piece of paper
Title it “Pangea” on the top in black fine liner
Write your name & div. in top right hand corner