50 years ago, an Antarctic fossil pointed to Gondwanaland’s existence


Fossil search in Antarctica, Science News, October 11, 1969 —

search for further fossil evidence that Antarctica was once joined to other
continents will be conducted.… A 17-man group will seek fossils of ancient land
vertebrates similar to those found on continents now separated from Antarctica
by up to 2,000 miles of ocean.


That same year, 1969, scientists found fossil evidence of the supercontinent Gondwana. Reptile bones found in Antarctica included a 200-million-year-old hippolike creature called Lystrosaurus (SN: 12/13/69, p. 549). The animal lived on the continental mash-up of South America, Africa, India, Australia and Antarctica that existed from around 600 million to 180 million years ago.

Another Antarctic expedition, in 1970, found a 200-million-year-old skeleton of a cynodont reptile, which resembled remains found in South America and India (SN: 12/5/70, p. 428). The fossils and other geologic evidence all but confirmed Gondwana’s existence (SN: 1/16/71, p. 49). Scientists later figured out how this continental jigsaw puzzle fit together (SN: 6/11/77, p. 372).

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