Around 200 million years ago the world’s landmass was contained in one giant supercontinent called Pangea surrounded by a mega ocean. I know that this isn’t news but I still find it startling and incredible nonetheless.
In the graphic below you can see the composition of Pangea but with the modern countries boundaries superimposed on it.
Click to view larger image
How can we know the configuration of the land jigsaw?
Scientists know that the jigsaw pieces of Pangea fit together in this particular way from their research.
Fossil skeletons of extinct species from across the world have been dated and their holotypes compared and they are more closely related in areas where these geographical landmasses were once connected.
Similar fossils have been discovered in South Africa, India and Australia. Such as the theropod dinosaur therapsid Lystrosaurus.
Rock formations match between the eastern coast of South America and the western coast of Africa.
Anybody who delves into natural history and earth sciences can’t help but shed their anthropocentric ways of thinking. Essentially the idea that humans all powerful masters of the universe is something that we are taught in school and throughout our life’s education. These ideas hark back to Judeo-Christian beliefs which have narratives of humans overpowering, taming and controlling nature (Noah in his ark is an example).
Judeo-Christian belief systems also give strong justification for the subugation, slavery and killing of animals as well. However they aren’t the only ones, all of the major religions put humans on a pedestal. Although we can see through natural and man-made disasters that our superiority and control is actually non-existent.
Looking at the evidence in the ground too, we can see that humans have been here for a heartbeat and before that, there was an ever-evolving procession of interesting, intelligent, convergent and divergent life-forms.
Seen through the eyes of multiple extinction events that wiped out huge numbers of species, we begin to see the world and all of its creatures (both extant and extinct) as something far more complex. We all exist due to natural phenomena such as changes in weather patterns, levels of oxygen in the atmosphere, contemporaneous species that provide us with food and so on.
As a species we’ve put far too many tickets on ourselves
Intelligent living organisms on this planet have been around long before humans even existed. The fact that Homo Sapiens even exist is a combination of deep time, complex environmental and natural phenomena and our intelligence. However this last factor intelligence accounts for far too much back-slapping. If indeed we were so intelligent as a species, why aren’t we anticipating and stopping destroying our own planet? We’re essentially shitting where we eat. Only a stupid species does that.
We’re playing with fire and pretty soon we will all be fossils in the ground to be discovered by another more superior extant species. What are your thoughts?
8 thoughts on “The Jigsaw Puzzle of Pangea: What It Tells Us About Our Fragile Human Lives”
This is a great post. It’s brilliant to see the Pangea graphic – because well it’s SO graphic. Your points of our anthropocentricity are well made. Frankly, I think some of us are becoming more stupid in this regard. I’ve written quite a bit about geological shift, given that where I live in Shropshire UK – on Wenlock Edge – was once part of the shallow tropical Silurian Sea that once lay off East Africa. Having lived in both places, it’s rather like returning to where I was, but with a 40 million year time difference 🙂
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Reblogged this on Quarksire and commented:
~~~~ ThanQ fer bringin dis’ one to light! “for a heartbeat and before that”,.Yes indeed! ..Would be great if mankind was a whole would get a grip on this one, Namaste’ 2 u in da land down unda’ . Eternal ? well, another ? question huh! we shall see what the answers behold er not huh! So- Peace-love & light … 4 dis’ lifetime 2 U an Urz anyhew 🙂 frum Colorado Q….
Hey there Quarksire, thanks so much for the reblog of my post so glad you liked it.
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very welcome 🙂 ..take care . Q
Fascinating! Incredible when you start to consider time differently
Aww thanks Jeremy that’s lovely of you to say. There is a great Coursera course I did about deep time which sparked my interest in this. Here is the link, I highly recommend it if you like this post. Just so interesting to see life through the lens of deep time because it makes humans seem so unimportant, which is of course true in the grand scheme of things. https://www.coursera.org/learn/emergence-of-life
Excellent. I did the learning to learn course this year and loved it. I’ll have a look at this as well, thank you. Do you follow Tim urbans blog, wait but why? This post is awesome https://waitbutwhy.com/2013/08/putting-time-in-perspective.html