Vol 3 Mammals of Africa ... Introduction ... Evolution of Africa
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Evolution of Africa

Africa used to be joined to America rather than Europe and Asia!
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If we look at Africa today, it is neatly separated from the other continents by oceans, except for the narrow Sinai peninsula that joins Egypt to Israel. But Africa was not always so distinct. During the Triassic period 220 million years ago, all the continents were joined in one 'supercontinent' called Pangaea, and even as recently as 190 million years ago, Africa was still joined to South America, Antarctica, India and Australasia. By the late Cretaceous period 100 million years ago, Africa was an island, separated from all the other continents.

Twenty five million years ago, the Great Rift Valley of eastern Africa was formed. This rift valley was created when the earth's crust cracked, forming an enormous scar from the Dead Sea between Israel and Jordan in the north, to Beira in what is now Mozambique in the south. The Great Rift Valley is over 4000 miles long.

The cracking formed two sets of highland regions separated by a valley which varies in width from 20 to 60 miles and in depth from a few hundred to six thousand feet. The Great Rift Valley contains some of the deepest lakes in the world, and the earth's upheavals in this region have produced some impressive volcanos around the valley, including Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and Mt. Kenya in Kenya.

The highlands of the Great Rift Valley produce a natural climatic barrier separating the central and western equatorial rainforests from the grasslands of the eastern savanna.