Alfred Wegener, born November 1st 1880, was a German scientist who took a great interest in meteorology and paleoclimatology and in 1905 graduated from the University of Berlin with a Ph.D. in Astronomy. His most notable work was the theory of continental drift. However his theory was highly controversial at the time as he had little evidence, but as technology enhanced neumerous discoveries were made which helped prove his idea of continental drift was true.
In 1912, Wegener published this theory that a single continent existed about 300 million years ago. He named his super-continent Pangaea, and maintained that it had later split into the two continents of Laurasia in the north and Gondwanaland in the south. Today’s continents were formed from further splitting of these two masses. Wegener published this theory of continental drift and claimed that it was supported by several pieces of evidence and that these areas were once joined. Although Abriham Ortelius previously proposed the idea of continents ‘drifting’ Wegener had thought it through in greater detail. He started gathering evidence and found that they fell into three categories, geological, biological and climatological. Wegener noticed the way in which continents such as South America and Africa appear to fit’ together, especially when the edge of the continental shelf is used rather than the present coastline, suggesting that they may have once been joined together – this is also known as the ‘jigsaw fit’. The diagram shows the break-up of the super-continent Pangaea, which figured prominently in the theory of continental drift -- the forerunner to the theory of plate tectonics.
Wegener also noticed a link between the rock types and geological structures that were seen to be similar on the two sides of the Atlantic. Such as the Appalachian Mountains in North America and the Caledonian Mountains in Scotland... [continues]
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