What Is Alfred Wegener's Pangaea Hypothesis?

What you should know about the idea of a proto-supercontinent

Question: What is Alfred Wegener's Pangaea Hypothesis?

Answer: In 1912 a German meteorologist named Alfred Wegener (1880-1931) hypothesized a single proto-supercontinent that divided up into the continents we now know because of continental drift and plate tectonics. This hypothesis is called Pangaea because the Greek word "pan" means "all" and Gaea or Gaia (or Ge) was the Greek name of the divine personification of the Earth.

Pangaea, therefore, means "all the Earth." Around the single protocontinent or Pangaea was a single ocean called Panthalassa (all the sea). More than 2,000,000 years ago, in the late Triassic Period, Pangaea broke apart. Although Pangaea is an hypothesis, the idea that all the continents once formed a single supercontinent makes sense when you look at the shapes of the continents and how well they essentially fit together.

In mythology, Hercules wrestled with the giant Antaeus, who gained his strength from his mother, Gaia.