Evolution continues to shape our world; and how we see it today was a total different story millions of years ago. We’re not only talking about our biosphere, but also the entire surface geography of the planet. The continents were in completely different places; and if you ever travel back in time, you’d reach the era of Pangea — that’s the last time all the continents were one mega landmass. Today, with the aid of technology, you can know exactly how the continents drifted apart, and even find out just where on Earth your house would’ve been if you lived on Pangea.
Related media: What If Pangea Never Broke Apart?
Once Upon Our Planet
The planet is made up of seven continents — you just ask any fifth grader. But this hasn’t always been the story: it was once upon a time home to a single continent plastered right in the middle of a worldwide ocean. Eventually, that continent broke up and scattered evenly across, thanks to plate tectonics. The last time the continents were one mega-continent was roughly 175 million years ago. That’s what’s known as Pangea, and you need not to be a geologist to find evidence — we are still in the puzzling nature of the continents today.
And neither do you have to assemble the world’s largest jigsaw puzzle in mind just to get a geologic history lesson of the planet. Aforementioned, with the aid of a website just like Google Maps today. Enter Dinosaur Pictures, a website developed by software engineer and passionate dinosaur enthusiast Ian Webster, you can assemble any ancient location and pinpoint a modern location to find where on Earth you are in the past. Sounds like knowing where your Flintstone house would have been in Bedrock. Yaaba Daba Doo!
Prehistoric Pangea Maps
[Factionary’s location on Pangea Maps]
The further back you go, the closer Techiman and the rest of West Africa drifts back toward the African subcontinent. Eventually, around 220 million years ago, you’ll find Florida wedged firmly between South America and Africa, while the region that will eventually become Europe and Asia hovers a little bit overhead.
This was the beginning of the end for Pangea, and the beginning of the beginning for the age of the dinosaurs. They roamed a lush planet while the ground beneath their feet was literally (geologically) breaking apart. After Pangea emerged two massive sub-supercontinents: Laurasia (consists of North America, Europe, and Asia) to the north; and the other, Gondwanaland (consists of Africa, South America, Australia, and Antarctica) down south. These two further broke up into the respective continents — this is still undergoing on today.
(Fun fact: Africa is splitting into two landmasses; and that’s the same process waiting to happen in a few million of years to come).
The Maps Of Our Lives
Of course, Pangea wasn’t the only supercontinent on Earth, or to say the least was quite a Big Deal than we’d imagined. Ur, probably the predecessor Valbaara, might have been roughly half the size of Australia, but made up half of it’s longevity. Ur was most likely the longest lived continent ever; roughly 3 billion years old — that’s a third of the Earth’s age; with later supercontinents like Kenorland, Columbia (not present day Colombia), and Rodinia.
These supercontinents also had a tremendous effect on the environment. Rodinia broke up into two landmasses that was probably responsible for the ice that preceded the Cambrian Era, which happened roughly 550 million years ago — about 100 million years before the evolution of the first vertebrates. Then enter Pangea, the last supercontinent, and after that is what we live on today as the seven continents we know. So what’s the next supercontinent? Stay tuned!
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Written by: Nana Kwadwo, Thu, Sep 05, 2019.