Today no-one doubts that the Earth’s surface is made up from a moving jigsaw of tectonic plates. Primary school children learn that South America was once connected to Africa, and that India’s collision with Asia pushed up the Himalayas. In hindsight plate tectonics seems obvious, and yet just 60 years ago the prevailing view was that continents were fixed in place.

Back in 1912 Alfred Wegener, a German geophysicist, noticed that if Earth’s landmasses were pushed together their boundaries appeared to fit loosely together, leading him to hypothesise that continents slowly drift around the Earth. But the idea was met with scepticism, and it wasn’t until 1965 that the tide of opinion really changed. The trigger was a paper published fifty years ago in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, titled “The fit of the continents around the Atlantic” .

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Source: Guardian Environment