I found these definitions online:

Pangaea is a hypothetical supercontinent that included all current land masses, believed to have been in existence before the continents broke apart during the Triassic and Jurassic Periods. An example of Pangaea is a massive continent that contained Eurasia, North America, India, Australia, Antarctica, Africa and South America. - https://www.yourdictionary.com/pangaea

the hypothetical landmass that existed when all continents were joined, from about 300 to 200 million years ago. -https://www.dictionary.com/browse/pangea

My question is if the term Pangaea refers to the name of the "supercontinent" (like todays "Europe" or "Africa") or as a term referring to all the continents coming together to make the "supercontinent".

  • What’s the difference? At that time there was one landmass. We’ve called that landmass Pangaea. The continents as we know them didn’t come together to form a union. Pangaea split apart and we named the pieces.
    – Jim
    Feb 19, 2019 at 20:55
  • @Jim The difference would arise if we discovered another planet similar to what earth was 300 million years ago, with the same "supercontinent" where the same continental drift theory would apply. Would we describe this supercontinental structure as a Pangaea (it being a definition of a formation) or would we call it something else assuming the name "Pangaea" simply refers to the name of our own earth's supercontinental structure Feb 19, 2019 at 22:02
  • Oh, I see what you’re getting at. My understanding is that it is a name not a concept. The one on Earth is Pangaea. It would not be called Pangaea for a supercontinent on a some other world.
    – Jim
    Feb 19, 2019 at 22:38
  • Following up on what @Jim said, there are other hypothetical past and future supercontinents that have their own names (e.g. Rodinia, Amasia). "Pangaea" is only for the Paleozoic/Mesozoic supercontinent.
    – zeroone
    Feb 20, 2019 at 4:07

1 Answer 1


"Pangaea" is the term used to refer to the supercontinent. I'm not aware of a term specifically describing the formation of Pangaea, but the general scientific theory of continents moving relative to one another is known as "continental drift."

  • 1
    Just to clarify "Pangaea" is simply the name given to the earthly supercontinent that existed 300 million years ago, the same as "Asia" is the name of a continent today? Feb 19, 2019 at 22:07
  • 1
    Correct. It is just the name. Feb 19, 2019 at 22:11
  • Though it's just a made-up scientific term for a hypothesized state of affairs; it's formed from Greek roots pan 'all' and gaea 'Earth', so it wouldn't work on another planet. And in fact it's mammalcentric because it only refers to continents; the oceans were the source and still the center of life on Earth in the Carboniferous. Feb 19, 2019 at 22:15

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