Pangaea, the Supercontinent


Currently the world is made up of seven land masses, or continents. Their locations are not fixed, though. Rather, they are constantly shifting due the movements of tectonic plates.


Sometimes all of the continents in the world come together to form a ‘supercontinent’, and then later they separate again. This seems to happen in cycles, and geologists believe that there have been four supercontinents in the last two billion years. The most recent supercontinent, Pangaea, existed from about 335 to 175 million years ago, coinciding with the early age of the dinosaurs. It was formed when two large continents, Gondwana (consisting of today’s Antarctica, South America, India, Africa, and Australia) and Laurasia (modern Asia, Europe, and North America) collided.


In contrast to today’s Earth, most of it was located in the southern hemisphere. It was surrounded by one superocean called Panthalassa. The interior may have been very dry and desert-like, while areas closer to the equator would have been lush and tropical. Besides dinosaurs, insects and the ancestors of modern mammals also lived in Pangaea. Most of these animals thrived well after a great mass extinction event that occurred 252 million years ago, killing off over three quarters of all life on Earth.


And what evidence do we have to support the existence of Pangaea? Well, anybody can look at a world map and notice how well the world’s present-day continents seem to fit if you were to push them together. But more scientifically, both the geological and plant/animal fossil records indicate unmistakable similarities between lands that were once beside each other.

Vocabulary 好字精選

1. geologist (n) a rock/Earth expert 地質學家
Tina loves learning about rocks so she wants to become a geologist. 

2. collide (v) smash/come together unintentionally  碰撞
The two cars collided but nobody was hurt.  

3. hemisphere (n) the northern, southern, eastern, or western half od the Earth  半球
The Dominican Republic is the poorest country in the western hemisphere. 

4. equator (n) the imaginary line that goes around the center of the Earth  赤道
Countries near the equator usually have hot, tropical climates.

5. lush (adj) very green with plant life  草木茂盛
The palace garden was lush and full of plants.

6. thrive (v) to grow, live, or develop well 茁壯成長
Bamboo thrives in the Central Mountain Range of Taiwan.

7. fossil (n) bones or plant remains that have to changed to stone over time 化石
Many dinosaur fossils have been found in this desert.

8. unmistakable (adj) impossible to deny or mistake for another thing 明確的
The students could hear the unmistakable sound of their teacher walking towards the classroom in the hallway.

Phrases and Sentence Patterns 句型解析

1. coincide with (phr) happen at the same time 與…相符
This year my birthday coincides with the Lunar New Year.

2. in contrast to (phr) in the opposite/very different way 與…相反,相比之下
In contrast to most of his friends, Jeff doesn’t like basketball.

Exercise 課後練習題

1.  _______________ have discovered that these mountains were once under the sea.

2. There was a giant explosion when the two planets _______________.

3. 88% of the world’s population lives in the Northern _______________.

4. The country of Ecuador is named after the _______________, which runs right through it.

5. Wow, the forest in Taiwan is so _______________ and green!

6. Cockroaches _______________ in the large cities of tropical countries.

7.One of the kids found a plant _______________ while they were playing on the rocks.

8. The evidence supporting her theory was ______________.

9. Unfortunately, the snowstorm _______________ the long weekend.

10. _______________ Japanese food, Korean food is quite spicy.

1. Geologists
2. collided
3. hemisphere
4. equator
5. lush
6. thrive
7. fossil
8. unmistakable
9. coincided with
10. In contrast to

Comprehension Questions 閱讀理解

1. What is the main topic of the third paragraph? 
a. How did Pangaea come into existence?  
b. How do geologists know that Pangaea really existed?
c. What were the landscape and wildlife of Pangaea like?
d. What was the weather in Pangaea like?

2. Which of the following statements is incorrect?
a. Pangaea was the world’s first supercontinent.
b. Dinosaurs and insects thrived in Pangaea.
c. Geologists are fairly certain that Pangaea existed.
d. Pangaea was mostly in the southern half of the Earth.


1. 第三段的主要內容為何?
a. 盤古大陸如何形成?  
b. 地質學家怎麼知道盤古大陸真的存在?
c. 盤古大陸的景觀與野生動物為何?
d. 盤古大陸的天氣如何?

2. 下列哪項陳述是錯誤的?
a. 盤古大陸是世界上第一個超級大陸。
b. 恐龍和昆蟲在盤古大陸繁衍生息。
c. 地質學家都相當肯定盤古大陸存在。
d. 盤古大陸大多在地球的南半部。


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