Would you believe if I said that you could have walked from Africa to South America about 273 million years ago?
This explains how some creatures and plants spread from one part of the world to the other.
To describe the characteristics, formation, and the breakup of Pangea, I gathered facts about Pangea. And I hope these facts will settle into your mind much quicker than wordy content.
1. The concept of Pangea was first proposed by the German scientist Alfred Wegener.
German geophysicist and polar researcher Alfred Wegener proposed the theory of Continental Drift, in which he explains how the continents broke off from a single supercontinent and drifted away until they came to the current day locations. Wegener explained his theory in-depth in his 1915 book called The Origins of Continents and Oceans.
2. The word Pangea composed of two Greek words.
According to etymology dictionary, the word Pangea was derived from the combination of two Greek words: Pan “all” and Gia “earth”.
It means something like “entire mother earth”, or “entire earth”.
3. Pangea was surrounded by the Panthalassa ocean.
In fact, Panthalassa was the only ocean that existed in that period. The existence of a single ocean during that time does not indicate that there was less water. Rather it indicates a single body of water which was not divided by landmasses as they are today.
After the continents broke apart and moved to their current positions, they have begun to serve as the natural boundaries inside the Panthalassa ocean. Those divisions have led to the appearances of new oceans and seas that we see today.
4. Pangea was not the only supercontinent that ever existed on our planet.
During 3.5 billion years, several other supercontinents believed to be existed and separated due to the constant motion of the Earth’s outer shell.
For instance, there were two other supercontinents that had existed before the formation of Pangea. The oldest one was Rodinia which was formed over a billion years ago.
The second one was Pannotia which existed about 600 million years ago. However, each supercontinent had a unique shape and they located in a different position on the globe.
5. Pangea was formed due to the collision of two large continents, Laurasia and Gondwana.
Nowadays, scientists believe that plate tectonics, instead of continental drift, was the driving force behind the formations and the separations of supercontinents.
Due to the unstable mantle, Earth’s outer shell lithosphere is on a constant move, creating a series of collisions and subductions. As a result of those movements, landmasses move closer and farther from each other.
Pangea is thought to be formed as result of a collision between two large continents: Laurasia which included North America and Eurasia and Gondwana which encompassed the present day South America, Africa, Antarctica, Arabian Peninsula, and the Indian subcontinent.
6. The temperature in Pangea was about 20 degrees Celsius hotter in summer.
Pangea had a humongous landmass which included so many landlocked places (the places far from the oceans). Therefore, the atmosphere in some parts of Pangea believed to be hot and dry.
Atmospheric carbon dioxide was also thought to be 20 times higher than today. (source)
7. Edges of the continents match each other like puzzle pieces when placed side by side.
It is interesting to observe how South America can be fitted into the African continent. We can also play that puzzle game with North America and Eurasia. The edges fit almost perfectly.
Please look at the image below to see what I am talking about.
The shapes of continents can be strong evidence that all the continents once were part of the Pangea before the break-up.
8. Creatures like Traversodonts and Archosaurs may have thrived in Pangea.
Due to the very limited pieces of evidence, it is very hard to sketch the animal life of Pangea. Some scientists believe that Traversodonts, creatures that belonged to the family herbivorous cynodonts, and Archosaurs, the ancestors of present-day crocodiles and birds, thrived in the lands of Pangea.
Information on Pangea’s marine life, however, is almost nonexistent because scientists are unable to find enough fossilized remnants from that period to base their research on. However, scientists suggest that Ammonites and Brachiopods were the possible marine dwellers of that time.
9. Pangea experienced the mass extinction during the Permian Period.
The mass extinction took place about 252 million years ago during the Permian period.
The Permian extinction wiped out 90% of the planet’s species. It killed most of the marine life, only a third of the large animal species on land survived, and it wiped out tree population of the continent.
Nobody knows what mysterious phenomena caused such extinction. Scientists are still searching for clues, though some are confidently pointing fingers at the acid rain which might have been caused by volcanic gases.
10. Pangea may reunite again in the future.
On the bases of the Supercontinent cycle, it is estimated that plate movements will form a new supercontinent about 250 million years in the future.
Scientists have already made a map depicting how would the future supercontinent look like during that period. It is pretty interesting. You may watch the illustration below.
Our instant generations will not know what would life be like on the new supercontinent, but we know for sure that our homes will not stay in the exact spot where they are standing now. The temperature will be different and we may even lose our favorite beaches.