The supercontinent Pangaea in the early Mesozoic (at 200 Ma)
Alfred Wegener c. 1924–1930
World map of Pangaea created by Alfred Wegener to illustrate his concept
The distribution of fossils across the continents is one line of evidence pointing to the existence of Pangaea.
Appalachian orogeny
Dicroidium zuberi, an Early Triassic plant from Pangaea (present-day Argentina)
The four floristic provinces of the world at the Permian-Carboniferous boundary, 300 million years ago
Early Triassic Lystrosaurus fossil from South Africa
The breakup of Pangaea over time

Supercontinent that existed during the late Paleozoic and early Mesozoic eras.

- Pangaea

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Large landmass, often referred to as a supercontinent, that formed during the late Neoproterozoic and began to break up during the Jurassic (about 180 million years ago).

Gondwana 420 million years ago (late Silurian). View centred on the South Pole.
Distribution of four Permian and Triassic fossil groups used as biogeographic evidence for continental drift, and land bridging
Eastern Gondwana. post-collisional extension of the East African Orogeny in blue and collisional metamorphism of the Kuunga orogeny in red.
Reconstruction showing final stages of assembly of Gondwana, 550 Mya
Gondwana formed part of Pangaea for c. undefined 150 Ma
Banksia, a grevilleoid Proteaceae, is an example of a plant from a family with a Gondwanan distribution
The plant genus Nothofagus provides a good example of a taxon with a Gondwanan distribution, having originated in the supercontinent and existing in present-day Australia, New Zealand, New Caledonia, and South America's Southern Cone. Fossils have also been found in Antarctica.

During the Carboniferous Period, it merged with Laurasia to form a larger supercontinent called Pangaea.


Geologic period and stratigraphic system that spanned from the end of the Triassic Period million years ago to the beginning of the Cretaceous Period, approximately Mya.

Portrait of Alexandre Brongniart, who coined the term "Jurassic"
Folded Lower Jurassic limestone layers of the Doldenhorn nappe at Gasteretal, Switzerland
Middle Jurassic strata in Neuquén Province, Argentina
Tidwell Member of the Morrison Formation (Upper Jurassic), Colorado
Base Aalenian GSSP at Fuentelsaz
Pangaea at the start of Jurassic
The breakup of Gondwanaland took place during the Late Jurassic, the Indian Ocean opened up as a result
Formation of the Pacific Plate during the Early Jurassic
Grainstone with calcitic ooids and sparry calcite cement; Carmel Formation, Middle Jurassic, of southern Utah, USA
Petrified Araucaria mirabilis cone from the Middle Jurassic of Argentina
Leaves of Ginkgo huttonii from the Middle Jurassic of England
Sagenopteris phillipsi (Caytoniales) from the Middle Jurassic of Yorkshire, England
Holotype specimen of Platysuchus, a telosaurid thalattosuchian
Thalassemys, a thalassochelydian sea turtle known from the Late Jurassic of Germany
Skeleton of Coeruleodraco
Fossil of Ichthyosaurus somersetensis at the Natural History Museum, London
Rhomaleosaurus cramptoni at the Natural History Museum
Skeleton of Rhamphorhynchus muensteri at Teylers Museum, Haarlem
Skeleton of Heterodontosaurus, a primitive ornithischian from the Early Jurassic of South Africa
Skeleton of Mamenchisaurus sinocanadorum from the Middle-Late Jurassic of China
Henkelotherium, a likely arboreal dyolestoid from the Late Jurassic of Portugal
Coelacanth from the Solnhofen Limestone
Head and forefin of Pachycormus, an extinct pachycormiform fish
Fossil of Palaeocarcharias, the oldest known lamniform shark
Lichnomesopsyche daohugouensis, an extinct mesopsychid scorpionfly from the Late Jurassic of China
Mongolarachne from the Late Jurassic of China
Eryon, a polychelidan decapod crustacean from the Late Jurassic of Germany.
Vadasaurus herzogi, a rynchocephalian from the Upper Jurassic Solnhofen Limestone of Germany
Homeosaurus maximiliani, a rynchocephalian from the Solnhofen Limestone
Pleurosaurus,, an aquatic rhynchocephalian from the Late Jurassic of Europe
Eichstaettisaurus schroederi,, an extinct lizard from the Solnhofen Limestone
Skeleton of Ceratosaurus, a ceratosaurid from the Late Jurassic of North America
Skeleton of Monolophosaurus, a basal tetanuran from the Middle Jurassic of China
Restoration of Yi qi, a scansoriopterygid from the Middle to Late Jurassic of China

By the beginning of the Jurassic, the supercontinent Pangaea had begun rifting into two landmasses: Laurasia to the north and Gondwana to the south.


Geologic period and system of the Paleozoic that spans 60 million years from the end of the Devonian Period million years ago , to the beginning of the Permian Period, million years ago.

Chart of regional subdivisions of the Carboniferous Period
Generalized geographic map of the United States in Middle Pennsylvanian time
Swamp forest in the Carboniferous
Lower Carboniferous marble in Big Cottonwood Canyon, Wasatch Mountains, Utah
Etching depicting some of the most significant plants of the Carboniferous
Ancient in situ lycopsid, probably Sigillaria, with attached stigmarian roots
Base of a lycopsid showing connection with bifurcating stigmarian roots
The upper Carboniferous giant spider-like eurypterid Megarachne grew to legspans of 50 cm.
Aviculopecten subcardiformis; a bivalve from the Logan Formation (Lower Carboniferous) of Wooster, Ohio (external mold)
Bivalves (Aviculopecten) and brachiopods (Syringothyris) in the Logan Formation (Lower Carboniferous) in Wooster, Ohio
Syringothyris sp.; a spiriferid brachiopod from the Logan Formation (Lower Carboniferous) of Wooster, Ohio (internal mold)
Palaeophycus ichnosp.; a trace fossil from the Logan Formation (Lower Carboniferous) of Wooster, Ohio
Crinoid calyx from the Lower Carboniferous of Ohio with a conical platyceratid gastropod (Palaeocapulus acutirostre) attached
Conulariid from the Lower Carboniferous of Indiana
Tabulate coral (a syringoporid); Boone Limestone (Lower Carboniferous) near Hiwasse, Arkansas
The late Carboniferous giant dragonfly-like insect Meganeura grew to wingspans of {{cvt|75|cm|ftin|0}}.
The gigantic Pulmonoscorpius from the early Carboniferous reached a length of up to {{cvt|70|cm|ftin|0}}.
Arthropleura was a giant millipede that fed on the Carboniferous plants.
Mazothairos was a large palaeodictyopteran insect from Mazon Creek.
Helenodora inopinata, a Stem-group onychophoran known from Indiana
A Blattoid Cockroach found in Carboniferous rocks of France
Akmonistion of the Holocephali order Symmoriida roamed the oceans of the early Carboniferous.
Falcatus was a Carboniferous holocephalan, with a high degree of sexual dimorphism.
Dracopristis was a Ctenacanthiform elasmobranch from the late Carboniferous of New Mexico.
Ornithoprion was a small-sized Eugeneodont holocephalan that had an elongated lower jaw.
Allenypterus was a Coelacanth fish known from the Bear Gulch Limestone in Montana.
A fossil of Echinochimaera, a fish known from the Bear Gulch Limestone in Montana
Phanerosteon was a Bony fish belonging to the extinct order Palaeonisciformes.
Rhizodus was a large freshwater Rhizodont sarcopterygian from Europe and North America.
Squatinactis, a genus of Elasmobranch fish from Montana
The amphibian-like Pederpes, the most primitive tetrapod found in the Mississippian, and known from Scotland.
Hylonomus, the earliest sauropsid reptile, appeared in the Pennsylvanian, and is known from the Joggins Formation in Nova Scotia, and possibly New Brunswick.
Petrolacosaurus, the earliest known diapsid reptile, lived during the late Carboniferous.
Archaeothyris is the oldest known synapsid, and is found in rocks from Nova Scotia.
Coloraderpeton was a snake-like aïstopod tetrapodomorph from the late Carboniferous of Colorado.
Crassygyrinus was a carnivorous stem-tetrapod from the early Carboniferous of Scotland.
Microbrachis was a lepospondyl amphibian known from the Czech Republic.
Amphibamus was a dissorophoid temnospondyl from the Late Carboniferous of Illinois.

The later half of the period experienced glaciations, low sea level, and mountain building as the continents collided to form Pangaea.


Earliest of three geologic eras of the Phanerozoic Eon.

Cephalaspis (a jawless fish)
Eogyrinus (an amphibian) of the Carboniferous
Synapsid: Dimetrodon
Life in the early Paleozoic
Swamp forest in the Carboniferous
An artist's impression of early land plants

The Paleozoic Era began with the breakup of the supercontinent of Pannotia and ended with the assembly of the supercontinent of Pangaea.


Laurasia (centre) and Gondwana (bottom) as part of Pangaea 200 Mya (Early Jurassic)
Columbia/Nuna 1,590 Mya
Rodinia 900 Mya centred on Laurentia with Baltica and Amazonia on its southern margin. 
View centred on 30°S,130°E.
Laurussia (left) during the closure of the Iapetus Ocean 430 Mya (middle Silurian) (view centred on 0°,-60°).
Euramerica in the Devonian
Pangaea formed during the closure of the Rheic Ocean 330 Mya (early Carboniferous) (view centred on 30°S,30°E)

Laurasia was the more northern of two large landmasses that formed part of the Pangaea supercontinent from around (Mya), the other being Gondwana.


The Panthalassa superocean 250 million years ago, Mollweide projection centred on 180°, 180°
The supercontinent Pangaea in the early Mesozoic (at 200 Ma) surrounded by Panthalassa.
The Pacific Plate began forming when the triple junction at the center of Panthalassa destabilized about 190 million years ago.

Panthalassa, also known as the Panthalassic Ocean or Panthalassan Ocean (from Greek πᾶν "all" and θάλασσα "sea"), was the superocean that surrounded the supercontinent Pangaea, the latest in a series of supercontinents in the history of Earth.

Continental drift

Hypothesis that the Earth's continents have moved over geologic time relative to each other, thus appearing to have "drifted" across the ocean bed.

Abraham Ortelius by Peter Paul Rubens, 1633
Antonio Snider-Pellegrini's Illustration of the closed and opened Atlantic Ocean (1858)
Alfred Wegener
Fossil patterns across continents (Gondwanaland)
Mesosaurus skeleton, MacGregor, 1908

His hypothesis was that the continents had once formed a single landmass, called Pangaea, before breaking apart and drifting to their present locations.


Assembly of most or all of Earth's continental blocks or cratons to form a single large landmass.

Although not a supercontinent, the current Afro-Eurasia landmass contains about 57% of Earth's land area.
As the slab is subducted into the mantle, the more dense material will break off and sink to the lower mantle creating a discontinuity elsewhere known as a slab avalanche
The effects of mantle plumes possibly caused by slab avalanches elsewhere in the lower mantle on the breakup and assembly of supercontinents
U–Pb ages of 5,246 concordant detrital zircons from 40 of Earth's major rivers

The last time the continental landmasses were near to one another was 336 to 175 million years ago, that supercontinent is called Pangaea.

Caledonian orogeny

Mountain-building era recorded in the northern parts of the British Isles, the Scandinavian Mountains, Svalbard, eastern Greenland and parts of north-central Europe.

Location of the different branches of the Caledonian/Acadian belts at the end of the Caledonian orogeny (Early Devonian). Present-day coastlines are indicated in gray for reference. Later in geological history, the Atlantic Ocean opened and the different parts of the orogenic belt moved apart. See also Iapetus Suture and Trans-European Suture Zone.
Geological map of Fennoscandia. The Sveconorwegian Orogen (including the Western Gneiss Region) is shown in pink. The nappes emplaced by the much younger Caledonian orogeny are shown in light green.

The Caledonian orogeny was one of several orogenies that would eventually form the supercontinent Pangaea in the Late Paleozoic era.

Triassic–Jurassic extinction event

One of the major extinction events of the Phanerozoic eon, profoundly affecting life on land and in the oceans.

Conodonts were a major vertebrate group which died out at the end of the Triassic
Capitosaurs (such as this Mastodonsaurus) were among the major amphibian groups which went extinct at the T-J boundary, though many may have died out earlier.
Reptile extinction at the end of the Triassic is poorly understood, but phytosaurs (such as this Redondasaurus) went from abundant to extinct by the end of the Rhaetian.
The Manicouagan reservoir in Quebec, a massive crater formed by a Late Triassic impact. Radiometric dating has determined that it is about 13 million years older than the Triassic–Jurassic boundary, and thus an unlikely candidate for a mass extinction.
Maximum extent of CAMP volcanism at the Triassic-Jurassic boundary

This event happened in less than 10,000 years and occurred just before Pangaea started to break apart.