~ Continental Drift Theory ~
We didn't always know that continents move,
or that the Earth's crust is broken into tectonic plates.
The Earth's CRUST is cracked into 7 Major and 7+ Minor Plates
Click here: Ice Age Continental Drift Trailer
~ Continental Drift and Pangaea ~
Alfred Lothar Wegener, Germany ( 1880 - 1930 )
Wegener's Book: The Origin of Continents and Oceans (1910)
Alfred Wegener noticed the "puzzle-fit" of the continents...
...Alfred Wegener couldn't figure out WHY the continents drift!!!
Wegener's ideas were not accepted by other scientists of his day,
because he didn't have access to SONAR or SUBMARINE technology.
We had to wait until Plate Tectonics Theory was developed in the early 1960's.
Click here: Alfred Wegener Song / The Life and Death of Wegener
Wegener died not knowing that others would eventually believe his theory :-(
Alfred Wegener proposed that today's continents once fit together
to form a supercontinent called: Urkontinent
(later named Pangaea)
Animations: The Separation of Pangaea
Supercontinent Pangaea / Pangaea Animation / More Animations
The Life of Wegener
Annenburg Interactive Drift
300 Years of FF in 300 Seconds
Zero Population Growth // Population
Pangaea Then & Now / Drift in 2 Minutes
Continental Drift Animations / Pangaea Name Game
All About Plate Movement / Scrat's Continental Adventure
Mountain Maker-Earth Shaker Activities / Continental Drift Animation
There was a mystery to be solved!
Did the continents once fit together? Prove it.
Alfred Wegener traveled the world by land and sea, and noticed...
...matching rocks and fossils on distant coastlines.
~ Plant and Animal Territorial Zones of Pangaea ~
Pangaea: Animal Habitat Zones
Below: Mesosaurus Fossil
Below: Mesosaurus ("Middle Reptile")
Below: Cynognathus Skull Fossil
Below: Cynognathus ("Dog Jaw Reptile")
Below: Lystrosaurus Skull Fossil
Above and below: Lystrosaurus ("Shovel Mouth Reptile")
Below: Pangaean Fossil Distribution Map
Above and Below: Glossopteris Leaf Fossils
Below: Glossopteris Tree
Lystrosaurus and Glossopteris
Below: Pangaean Landscape Scene
~ Pre-Wegener Explanation for Fossil Distribution ~
Geologists (falsely) believed that the continents were once connected by
which have since sunken under the oceans.
...similar to modern land bridges: Panama
...or past frozen land bridges: Beringia
~ Matching Rock Types and Tropical Coal Distribution ~
Note the matching rock types when the continents are reassembled as Pangaea.
|Coal is a black rock made from swampy, tropical plants that were buried underground, decayed, and eventually turned into solid rock.
||Take note of the locations of "tropical" coal deposits on the map above. (In now temperate regions)
Below: Original Pangaean Coal Deposits in the "Gray Band"
~ Distribution of Glacial Deposits in Pangaea ~
Take note of glacial zones during Pangaea
and compare them to the locations of glacial deposits at present (upper box).
Above & Below: Pangaea
Below: Past, Present and Future Landmass Locations
Future Pangaea Ultima
The Average Rate of Plate Motion:
2.5 cm/year = Rate of Fingernail Growth
~ The Pangaean Superocean ~
Note the location below of:
the PANTHALLASIC OCEAN and TETHYS SEA.
Above: Pangaea (250 million years ago)
FYI: The supercontinent Pangaea started to break apart about 225 million years ago.
FYI: Pangaea first split into northern LAURASIA and southern GONDWANALAND.
FYI: Before Pangaea, there was another supercontinent called Rodinia.
What Alfred Wegener didn't know...
Plate Tectonics: Why do plates move?
Q: What is the cause of crustal plate movement?
A: Convection Currents in the Mantle (and Sea Floor Spreading).