We often say all the continents used to be one large landmass called Pangaea, but especially if the shape of continents changes with the sea levels, even though all the landmasses seem to fit together like a jigsaw puzzle, what causes scientists to conclude it was all one landmass at one time?


My friends debate this all the time. I’m not sure their angle, but they often say “just because all the landmasses can fit together doesn’t confirm they did come together”, often using the analogy of how actual jigsaw puzzles might have pieces that fit perfectly fine with the pieces of other puzzles, or how a generic phrase might unintentionally fit as a haiku format.

Side note, I noticed there’s no geology flair.

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It’s more than just that the continents used to fit together.

We found fossil evidence linking two continents that are completely far apart now. We found evidence in the oceans that proves ice bridges once connected various places. We found common ancestry on these split apart continents, that would have no possible way of crossing massive oceans in order to create this discrepancy in distance.

We determined that it is very likely that the jigsaw puzzles fit because every other bit of evidence regarding time period, soil dispersion, creatures which once roamed the areas, and more – All line up perfectly across the two continents. This would only be possible if those two continents were at one point the same continent, sharing in all aspects.

– it’s not the coastlines that fit together, it’s the continental shelves which aren’t affected by sea levels.

– it’s not only the shape, there’s also geological formations and the distribution of fossils that fit together.

– we have proof that the oceanic ridges are expanding because they record the history of Earth’s magnetic field.

– today, we can directly measure how the continents are moving.

The real answer is that the answer is much more complicated than what your friends seem to think. You can’t take an entire active field of science and boil it down to “the continents seemed to fit together.”

Also, isn’t there an earth sciences flair?