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Gondwana (also referred to as “Gondwanaland”) was a supercontinent that broke up about 180 million years ago into what we now know as Africa, Australia, Antarctica, South America, the Arabian Peninsula, and the Indian subcontinent.
See the fact file below for more information on the Gondwana or alternatively, you can download our 20-page Gondwana worksheet pack to utilize within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
THE FORMATION OF GONDWANA
- Gondwana is thought to have formed about 510 million years ago in a protracted process consisting of various tectonic events, meaning it lasted for a very long time.
- During what is known as the “Carboniferous period”, Gondwana collided with other large masses of land.
- When Gondwana collided with these other landmasses, Pangaea (the supercontinent consisting of Gondwana, Laurentia, Baltica, and Siberia) was created.
- Eventually, beginning in the Triassic period and lasting until the Jurassic period, Pangaea broke up; this is when Gondwana and Laurasia were formed, but Gondwana was not exactly the same as it was before Pangaea was formed.
THE BREAKUP OF GONDWANA
- When Gondwana existed, the planet was a lot warmer than it is today; Gondwana was covered with lush rainforest, there was no Antarctic ice sheet, and dinosaurs were still roaming the Earth.
- During the Mesozoic period, the newly formed Gondwana began to break up once again; this time, East Gondwana (which was comprised of Antarctica, Madagascar, India, and Australia) began to separate from Africa.
- South America soon began drifting slowly westward from Africa during the time the South Atlantic Ocean was being opened.
- Meanwhile, in Eastern Gondwana, Madagascar split from India and both moved apart from Australia and Antarctica.
- The breakup of Eastern Gondwana is said to have wiped out nearly
50% of all the species on the planet (mostly dinosaurs) about 65 million years ago.
- Some scientists believe that the breakup of Gondwana was partly due to volcanic and tectonic activity.
- During the Cenozoic period, Australia-New Guinea began to separate and rotate north; meanwhile, the India Plate collided with Asia, which formed the Himalayas.
- Tasmania also separated from Antarctica, which allowed ocean currents to flow between them (known as the Antarctic Circumpolar Current).
- An important world climatic event occurred when South America was separating from West Antarctica, about 30 million years ago, and resulted in Antarctica being a frigid continent.
- Once South America separated from Antarctica, the Earth’s climate began to cool.
MODERN EFFECTS OF GONDWANA
- Although the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event wiped out ¾ of the plant and animal species on Earth (about 65 million years ago, and believed to have been caused by the impact of a massive comet or asteroid), plant evolution was barely affected in Gondwana.
- Today, the Australian continent still moves approximately 1.2 inches north per year.
- The Laurel Forests, which exist in parts of Australia, New Caledonia, and New Zealand, have many species that are related to species of Antarctic flora and still retain plants that originated in Gondwana.
GEOLOGY, PLANT, AND ANIMAL LIFE IN GONDWANA
- Gondwana had a lush, warm, tropical climate, similar to the climate of a tropical rainforest today.
- By the time Gondwana’s final formation occurred, multicellular organisms had primitively evolved; fossils of creatures and segments of insects that resemble modern-day plants and animals were found.
- Dinosaurs roamed around on Gondwana for millions of years, with many lush plants and forests to eat and live in.
- The plant family “Proteaceae” is one that is found in all of the Southern Hemisphere continents and indicates that it has a “Gondwanan distribution”.
- Many extinct primitive plants that grew in Gondwana included the giant club mosses, progymnosperms, and the first large trees to be seen, known as Archaeopteris.
- A vast amount of biodiversity that existed in Gondwana can be witnessed today, particularly in places like Australia and New Zealand, where many of these species are endemic.
- The largest land lizard that has ever lived was called the Megalania, meaning “great roamer”; it was a venomous carnivore that
lived in Australia; only 20% of its bone structure has been discovered so far.
- The little Leaellynasaura was a tiny dinosaur that was herbivorous with a long, thin tail and excellent sight.
This is a fantastic bundle that includes everything you need to know about the Gondwana across 20 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Gondwana worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Gondwana (also referred to as “Gondwanaland”) which was a supercontinent that broke up about 180 million years ago into what we now know as Africa, Australia, Antarctica, South America, the Arabian Peninsula, and the Indian subcontinent.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Gondwana Facts
- Scientists You Should Know
- Evidence Examination
- Gondwana Wordsearch
- Prehistoric Vocabulary
- Gondwana Crossword
- Artistic Collage
- Opening of the Drake Passage
- Journey to Gondwana
- The Laurel Forests
- Gondwana Acrostic
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Use With Any Curriculum
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