Gondwana. A huge ancient supercontinent that once ruled the world. It began to break up around the early Jurassic era, an intense period of fire and lava as the landmass started to rip apart. But around 130 million years ago, something could’ve happened. Something that could’ve radically altered the world as we know it today. Africa could’ve split in two, sending the best part of the Sahara across the ocean with South America, an event that would’ve drastically changed the world. But what of this different world? Just what would this world be like?
When all the world was one, Africa and South America were nestled together. When Gondwana started to split, huge gashes along the Earth’s surface began to form. One, the West Africa Rift System, started to tear apart near to the modern day Sahara desert. There were two more gashes along the modern day boundaries of South America and Africa. Hence why the world is the way it is today. It split like this because this was the path of least resistance, east-west, but it could easily have split north-south. South America was, by this point, already starting to head west. Just one change and the world as we know it would be transformed.
The Sahara would’ve joined South America on its fun little jaunt across the ocean. Now tacked on to the north-eastern corner of South America, but still a vast desert. Underneath, there would be a vast ocean we shall call the Saharan Atlantic Ocean, mixing it up down there with the Atlantic. Africa, from our perspective, would be carved almost equally in half. Entire civilisations would have never existed. Human history rewritten. The world came close to this scenario. And it may yet still.
The Afar region of Ethiopia. Today. Here, the African continent is slowly splitting in two. Okay, it will take 10 million years, but humans will still be alive on Earth in 10 million years time. To witness this split. The continent is gradually cracking apart beneath the very feet of Africans. In 2005, a 37 mile long stretch of land split open, creating a gash eight yards wide. It’s believed that hot molten rock is bubbling up from deep inside the Earth and causing all this. Ultimately resulting in the horn of Africa falling away, creating an entirely new ocean.
It’s believed parts of southern Ethiopia and Somalia will drift away, forming a new island. A big one, too, drifting away to a new home in the Indian Ocean. A smaller Africa adjusting to life without its horn. Man alive. Imagine that. I’d sure hate life without my horn. Oh, hang on, that came out wrong…
What would the world be like if Africa had split in two 130 million years ago? Perhaps it’s impossible to know for sure. But we’ll certainly find out what another split will do to the world in a couple million years time.
What a world that will be…
Image (Click on It to Enlarge)
1) How the world could’ve been.
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