Across the Earth, there are traces of a mysterious long-lost world. From seashells 8000 meters above sea-level to species that seem to have jumped thousands of miles of ocean there are tantalising clues out there to the existence of a land unlike anything we see today. As they are pieced together The Rise of the continents will reveal the incredible story of how our world came to be and the nature of the land that came before. This four part series investigates clues that tell a story of a land that no longer exists.
This episode shows how Australia's journey as a continent has affected everything from Aboriginal history to modern day mining, and also the evolution of Australia's unique wildlife. Iain visits an opal mining town called Coober Pedy to recreate the breakup of Gondwana, and to also show how Australia's formation led to the creation of a vast underground aquifer. The episode also features cliffs of the Australian Bight which are a reminder to the times when Australia was once joined to Antarctica.
To reveal Eurasia's origins, Prof Iain Stewart climbs up to the "eternal flames" of Mount Chimaera and explains that where the South of Eurasia is today, there was once a ninety-million-square-kilometre Ocean known as the Tethys. Destruction of the Tethys Ocean led to Eurasia's formation. The freshwater fish called Karimeen, from the backwaters of Kerala in Southern India is a clue that India was once four thousand kilometres south of its current position on the other side of the Tethys, joined to Madagascar.
Using clues like Africa's spectacular landmarks, mineral wealth and wildlife, Iain Stewart shows how the continent of Africa was formed from the wreckage of a long lost supercontinent. It features, among other things, creation of Victoria Falls, diamond mines of Sierra Leone, skeletons of early whales buried in the sand, and the nutrient-rich grass of the Serengeti Plains.
200 million years ago North and South America were carved from Pangaea, and pushed westwards as separate island continents. The episode explains how subduction has created the longest continual mountain range in the world - the Andes, and how 300 million years ago New York was at the heart of a huge mountain range. Using llama as an example, Iain explains how most of South America's wildlife originated in North America, and only came south when the two island continents of North and South America joined three million years ago.
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