What Is the Continental Drift Theory and How Did Pangaea Break Up Into Pieces and Form the Continents?

According to the theory of continental drift, the Earth’s continents move relative to each other.

Scientists believe that early in the earth’s history, there was just a single landmass, or continent, which they call Pangaea.

About 200 million years ago, Pangaea broke up and the pieces began to drift.

Today’s continent of Africa was at the center of Pangaea.

South America broke off from southwestern Africa and drifted west, Antarctica broke away from Africa’s southern tip and drifted south, and Australia broke off from Antarctica and headed east.

North America split off from Africa’s northwest coast and shifted west, and Eurasia broke off the top and moved north.

At one point, India split off from Africa’s east coast and was an island for a long time, until it moved north into Asia, pushing against it so hard that the movement created the Himalayas.

If you study the shapes of the continents on a map, you can see how their general outlines match up with one another.

The continents are still moving today.

The division of the supercontinent of Pangaea began roughly 200 to 225 million years ago.

The continents as we know them today began forming then, and the tectonic plates that carry them continue to move.

Lines of latitude and longitude don’t physically exist; they are concepts created by geographers and cartographers that make it easier for humans to describe locations on Earth.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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