What is Gondwana?
Inevitably, when people take a trip with Gondwana Ecotours, the question arises: “What is Gondwana?”. At last, we are prepared to reveal the meaning behind this strange word.
Once upon a long-gone time, there was an Enormous (with a capital E) landmass adrift on planet earth. This was long before anyone had thought to name the oceans, indeed, long before there was anyone to name them at all. This was even before the existence of what we now call “Pangaea”, the supercontinent.
Somewhere around 500 million years back, this continent was floating about, and stretched from near the south pole to the equator. This is what we call Gondwana, and it was composed of lots of modern-day locations.
Gondwana was an enormous and hugely diverse landmass made up of Australia, Antarctica, South America, Africa, and Madagascar. A huge amount of biodiversity comes with the territory of having so much space. Even today, the varied biology of Gondwana can still be seen on Earth. There are still species that are distantly related on both Australia and Antarctica. Plants having their origin on Gondwana are called “Gondwanian”.
So after a few million years of floating around on its own, Gondwana did indeed collide with “Laurasia” to form Pangaea. Laurasia was the supercontinent comprised of modern-day North America, Europe, and Asia. So when these two behemoths joined together, they stayed that way for approximately 200 million years. (about as old as 2.4 million of my grandfathers, for perspective)
The breakup took several million years (though all of Gondwana’s friends said it was too good for Laurasia, anyway), and the two supercontinents reformed (though not precisely the same) and over the next 30 million years or so, Gondwana broke up into the continents we are familiar with today.
And that is the tale of Gondwana. Perhaps the most interesting part of the story is that it may not be over yet. Scientists have pretty clearly established that the formation of supercontinents is cyclical. This means that in several hundred million years, we might be back where we started. It is entirely possible that we have another Gondwana or even Pangaea on our hands. Of course, it is highly unlikely that you, dear reader, and I will be around to see it, but it’s still very fun to imagine.
So this is all, in a very roundabout way to express something of the origin of the “Gondwana” in “Gondwana Ecotours”, as well. We decided to name our international ecotourism company Gondwana Ecotours because we like the idea of the world as one. By adventuring to faraway places as a responsible traveler, we are reconnecting with one another and our planet.