Image: Gondwanaland


Gondwanaland, ancient landmass that consisted of the present continents of South America, Africa, Australia, and Antarctica, as well as the Indian subcontinent, Madagascar, and New Zealand. Also called Gondwana, Gondwanaland is believed to have been intact at least twice, once during much of the Paleozoic Era and again during the early part of the Mesozoic Era. Between these two periods all seven of the present-day continents formed a single landmass called Pangaea, which lasted from the Permian Period to the end of the Triassic Period. Gondwanaland began to break up into the separate modern continents about 185 million years ago during the Jurassic Period.

The idea that the southern continents were

The idea that the southern continents were at one time united into a supercontinent was first proposed in 1885 by Austrian geologist Eduard Suess. He noted that all four continents have similar glacial deposits and fossils corresponding to the end of the Carboniferous Period and the beginning of the Permian Period. However, these glacial deposits and fossils are absent from the northern continents. He named the ancient landmass Gondwanaland for a region in central India that displays the typical geological features of the Permian and Carboniferous periods. The name Gondwanaland is derived from Sanskrit words meaning the forest of the Gonds, a people living in India. ( "See also "Plate Tectonics.)

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