Isthmus of Panama

narrow landstrip in Panama

The Isthmus of Panama (Spanish: Istmo de Panamá) is the narrow strip of land that lies between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. It links North and South America. It contains the country of Panama and the Panama Canal.

The Isthmus of Panama

The isthmus formed about four million years ago.[1] It separated the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. It caused the Gulf Stream.

Its history was first suggested in 1910 by North American paleontologist Henry Fairfield Osborn. He based the proposal on the fossil record of mammals in Central America.[2]

Osborn's ideas were used by Alfred Wegener when he proposed the theory of continental drift in 1912.[3]


  1. O’Dea et al. 2016, Abstract
  2. Osborn H.F. 1910. The Age of Mammals. Macmillan. [1]
  3. Wegener, A. (2003) [1912]. Translated by Roland von Huene. The Origins of Continents ( Milestones in Geosciences. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer: 4–17. doi:10.1007/978-3-662-08763-3_1. ISBN 978-3-642-07919-1. (Original German article from 1912 with English translation from 2003.)