November 21, 2017

AmericanEnglishDoctor.com is the work of M. J. Maddox, PhD. The content is for parents, teachers, and mature students.

Dr. Maddox writes about School Reform at the online magazine Bellaonline.

Literacy-matters.

Continental Drift

I can remember being laughed at by a teacher when I asked if South America and Africa had once been joined.

Continental puzzle pieces (source: University of Cincinnati site)

Continental puzzle pieces (source: University of Cincinnati site)

I thought they looked like puzzle pieces that would fit together. I guess it takes time for scientific discoveries to trickle down to the classroom.

As early at the 16th century, Flemish geographer Abraham Ortelius (1527-1598) suggested that the continents had once been joined. Scientists in the 18th and 19th centuries discussed the idea. German geophysicist Alfred Wegener (1880-1930) coined the term continental drift. Italian geologist Roberto Mantovani (1854-1933) speculated that all the continents had once been joined into one big land mass. This theoretical “super continent” is known as Pangaea [pan-jee-uh]. (Pan=all; gaea=earth) Also spelled Pangea.

Pangaea

Pangaea (source: Wikimedia Commons; User Keith)

Apparently a lot of grown up scientists thought the continents looked like puzzle pieces too.

Wegener used the provenance of fossils to support his theory. (source: US Geological Survey)

Wegener used the provenance of fossils to support his theory. (source: US Geological Survey)

It wasn’t until the late 20th century that scientific reasons for continental “drift” were found in the theory of plate tectonics.

Yes, the continents DO move, and one day Africa will bump into Europe.

In the late 20th century, drift was explained by plate tectonics. (source: USGS)

In the late 20th century, "drift" was explained by plate tectonics. (source: USGS)

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