Word of the week: Gondwanaland

Many are familiar with the supercontinent of “Pangaea”, a land mass made up of the modern day Americas, Eurasia, Africa, India, Antarctica and Australia.

Between 570 and 510 million years ago this land mass divided and part of it that broke off became known as “Gondwanaland”. This new continent was, fundamentally, what was to become the Southern Hemisphere as it included Antarctica, South America, Africa and Australia. However, land that now makes up India and the Arabian Peninsular were also part of Gondwanaland.

The name, often referred to as “Gondwana”, was coined by the geologist Eduard Suess and comes from the Gondwana region of northern India which translates from the sacred Hindu language, Sanskrit, as “forest of the Gonds” (Gonds are the second largest tribe in Central India).

The use of the word has also evolved into an adjective, “Gondwanan”. This is typically used by biologists when referring to organisms that are restricted to regions of Gondwanaland.

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