Pangaea was the global supercontinent which formed in the Palaeozoic era. The process started about 450 million years ago (mya) and was complete by 210 mya. So, apart from some volcanic islands (not proven, but very likely), all the land areas were collected together in one big supercontinent.
Pangaea was the latest of a series of global supercontinents. They formed at various times since plate tectonics began on Earth. Panthalassa was the name of the huge global ocean which surrounded Pangaea.
The collisions between continental plates formed the greatest mountain ranges in the history of the Phanerozoic eon. The mountain building included the Caledonian orogeny, the Alleghenian orogeny and the Variscan orogeny. The low mountains of Scotland, Scandinavia and eastern North America are the ground-down remains of these vast events.
Pangaea broke up about 180/200 million years ago, in the early middle Jurassic. It broke into supercontinents Laurasia and Gondwana before each of these broke into the present continents. One rift resulted in a new ocean, the North Atlantic Ocean.
The third major and final phase of the break-up of Pangaea occurred in the early Cenozoic (Paleocene to Oligocene). Laurasia split when North America (Laurentia) broke free from Eurasia, opening the Norwegian Sea about 60–55 mya. The Atlantic and Indian Oceans continued to expand, closing the Tethys Ocean.
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- meaning entire Earth in Ancient Greek
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