Science: Pangaea Stayed Together Longer Than Geologists Had Thought

The Story:

A recent fossil discovery in Utah indicates that us late-coming humans may be very wrong about the timing of the breakup of Pangaea.


The geological theory of “continental drift” holds in broad terms that the continents sit on top of tectonic plates, and the plates sit on top of the mantle. The mantle is slippery stuff, so the continental plates move about. Geologists believe they have traced back the movements of the plates to a point at which they all converge, at a time when there was but one continent, Pangaea, which began to break apart 135 million years ago.

Or at least so it has been thought. Now paleontology may have indicated a need for a revision of that view.

Strange New Worlds:

According to Dr Adam Huttenlocker of the University of Southern California, newly discovered Utah fossils of a creature known as the Cifelliodon Wahkarmoosuch, whose nearest relatives resided in northern Africa, indicate that it was possible to migrant between those two places on dry land much later than had been thought.

It now appears, then, that Pangaea didn’t break apart until 15 million years later than prior estimates.

The name of the genus, Cifelliodon, honors paleontologist Richard Cifelli. The species name, Wahkarmoosuch, is a Ute word meaning “yellow cat.”

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