Continents in the Palaeocene
Cenozoic means ‘recent life’ and the era began 65 million years ago and ended 56.5 million years ago. It came after the Mesozoic or ‘middle life’ era that preceded it for 185 million years. Two supercontinents existed, separated by the Tethys Sea.
65 million years ago, at the boundary between the Cenozoic and Mesozoic eras, something major happened to the Earth. The result was a huge change that altered both animals and plants around the globe.
The vast Cretaceous inland seas dried up during the Palaeocene epoch, exposing large areas of land in North America and Eurasia.
North America, Asia and Europe were joined in one Northern Supercontinent, called Laurasia. Greenland started to separate from North America.
Over the South Pole another huge continent, Gondwanaland - made up of Africa, South America, Antarctica and Australia - continued to split apart.
Africa and India had already become independent island continents during the Cretaceous period. Africa's separation from South America began about 120 million years ago.
Africa and India had already become independent island continents during the Cretaceous period. India separated from Australia/Antarctica about 128 million years ago.
Drying of the large Cretaceous seas left only small remnants. Around the Equator, the Tethys Sea was still open.