|How do fossils provide evidence of continental drift?|
|Question Date: 2018-05-31|
Fossils tell us where animals and plants used to
live, and many animals and plants live only on a
single continent. Thus, if we find fossils of a
plant or animal on multiple continents, then one
likely explanation is that those multiple
continents used to be joined together in a single
Fossils provide support for
continental drift more or less by the same
fossils being present on widely separated
Consider the ways which anything can move
around the biosphere. Something could walk across
the land, swim/drift through the water, or fly/be
blown through the air. Since some continents are
widely separated by oceans, walking between them
is impossible (e.g. North America to Europe).
While some dinosaurs may have been able to swim or
fly across the oceans, fossils of land-based
dinosaurs which definitely could not have made
such sea/air journeys indicate that it was
possible to travel across land between the
continents. Since this is not possible now, but
was in the past, the conclusion is that the
continents were much closer together or even
connected at an earlier point in time and have
since drifted apart.
There is interesting information also
First let's talk about continental drift
-- this is a theory that the continents are
moving. The continents move because of the
tectonic plates they sit on. Using GPS, we can
actually measure how fast a continent is moving,
but before we had GPS, how did scientists know?
How could they tell that Antarctica wasn't always
at the bottom of the planet, covered in ice? How
did they know that Canada used to be at the
equator, with sunny tropical weather?
One method of proving that the continents have
moved, is using fossils.
Now let's talk about fossils. Fossils are the
remains of animals or plants that used to be
alive. If I find a fossil of a tropical plant in
Antartica, then I know that when the plant was
alive, this spot on Earth was warm and tropical.
This is how fossils can prove that continents are
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