We all know about Pangaea, the super continent that formed when all seven continents smooshed together back around 335 million years ago. But what about Gondwanaland? Or Proto-Laurasia?
Before Pangaea, Gondwanaland had formed by the collision of the early versions of South America, Africa, India, Australia, and Antarctica. It had formed pretty much by 500 million years ago, when the Cambrian period began. It was largely south of the equator.
Proto-Laurasia was North America and Eurasia, which had formed by 750 million years ago, when an earlier supercontinent, Rodinia broke up. There’s been any number of supercontinents, apparently, what with all the slippy sliding about of the buggers. Proto-Laurasia was north of the equator. But Gondwanaland and Proto-Laurasia were both on the same side of the planet. I’d think that would make the whole Earth’s rotating about its axis more than a bit wobbly. It certainly makes my brain wobble just thinking about it.
Then, as I said, 335 million years ago, they tied the knot, enjoyed connubial bliss, as it were, slamming merrily into each other, and became Pangaea, which was mainly south of the equator and still all on one side of the planet. You’d think riding on the earth would have been a lot like riding on a tilt-a-whirl, what with all that mass wobbling about in a sort of planetary version of twerking. Maybe paleontologists should be looking for fossilized proto-dinosaur barf. Tilt-a-whirls certainly make me upchuck, along with some twerking butts I’ve seen.
Luckily for us, in terms of evolution, the marriage only lasted 160 million years. The breakup began in the early Mesozoic. Gondwana was back on its own, dropping land from its name, and Proto-Laurasia, having matured, became Laurasia.
Alas, they couldn’t maintain their separate identities. Maybe it was the psychological damage of the breakup, maybe it was the twerking, but both supercontinents simply drifted off into more pieces. Seven pieces, technically, but not the ones you learned in school. Or should have learned. Europe has been slammed up against Asia since Proto-Laurasia, and is still moving east, hence Eurasia. India is the one that cruised off on its own, cruising up into Eurasia much later. There really are only six continents.
Take heart, though, Pangaea fans. North and South America are cruising west and will slam into Eurasia. The other continents are heading largely northward, also into Eurasia. They’ll all be in the northern hemisphere in a couple of hundred million years. I expect it will be an earth twerking event.
First shared on the Squatcher’s Lounge Podcast:
An audio version of this quasi theory may be found here: