The Changing Earth

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In 1885 Eduard Suess (1831-1914), Austrian geologist, realized that there had once been a land bridge between South America, Africa, India, Australia, and Antarctica. He based his deductions upon the fossil fern Glossopteris, which is found throughout India, South America, southern Africa, Australia, and Antarctica. He named this large land mass Gondwanaland (named after a district in India where the fossil plant Glossopteris was found).

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In 1912 Alfred Lothar Wegener (1880-1930) presented his hypothesis of continental drift, and published it The Origin of the Continents and Oceans. He suggested that originally there was a single land mass, Pangaea, surrounded by a single world-wide ocean, Panthalassa. About two hundred million years ago Pangaea began to break up, and after twenty million years two continents, Lauasia and Gondwanaland, separated by the Tethys Sea emerged, together with other continental fragments. Thermal convection in the earth’s mantle in the mid-Atlantic caused the sea floor to spread and contributed to the drift of the continents. They continued to drift until they assumed the present configuration.
     The stamps issued by the British Antarctic Territory show the drift of Gondwanaland from 280 million years ago to the present, and life forms from those periods.

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