Australian Continent (01:59)
We think of Australia as an isolated island, but scientists are finding geological and biological evidence that it was once part of a large land mass.
Platypus History (03:28)
Ecologist Josh Griffiths searches for the ancient species in a Victoria forest. Learn how their unique mix of reptile, mammal and bird links them to evolutionary processes—and suggests Australia wasn't isolated, 200 million years ago.
Prehistoric Glossopteris Forest (04:29)
Australia's coal provides a clue to its geological past. Fossilized plants in New South Wales match those found in Antarctica on the Terra Nova Expedition—showing the two continents were connected and covered with a forest 255 million years ago.
Gondwana Evidence (02:07)
Glossopteris fossils show Australia and Antarctica were once part of a super continent, covered in a forest. New South Wales wooded areas provide a glimpse of the ancient world.
Coober Pedy (03:34)
Visit an Australian opal mining town carved underground to escape desert heat.
Opal Formation (03:49)
Geologist Patrice Ray explains conditions under which the gem stones are formed. Silica and sulfur eating bacteria indicate an inland sea in Australia, formed when Gondwana broke up 180 million years ago.
Songline Strategy (03:19)
Learn how Aborigines used land formations and songs to locate water sources in the desert. Mound springs are linked to an underground reservoir that formed when Gondwana broke up.
Great Artesian Basin (03:28)
When Gondwana broke up, an inland sea deposited mud over a porous sandstone bed that traps freshwater under 22% of the Australian continent today. Mound springs have sustained Aboriginal people for thousands of years.
Australian Rift Valley (03:41)
100 million years ago, Gondwana was broken but Australia didn't yet exist. Southern coastal cliffs fit together with Antarctica; learn how they broke apart 50 million years ago.
Antarctic Circumpolar Current (05:16)
Whales migrate from Antarctica to Australia for breeding. The currents that transformed temperate Antarctica to an ice cap 35 million years ago provided a food source; learn how whales developed krill to feed on phytoplankton.
Australia's Endemic Species (05:23)
While Antarctica turned to ice, Australia entered warm latitudes 20 million years ago, transforming from forest to desert. Learn how koala bears adapted rapidly to chew eucalyptus trees and communicate.
Banda Sea Continental Collision (06:41)
Bajau people depend on fishing in Indonesia's Coral Triangle. A fossilized sea bed indicates an island has risen from the ocean; bedrock matches that of Australia. Learn how the geological movement creates a diverse marine habitat.
Australia's Continental Future (02:03)
Colliding with Asia has forced up volcanoes in Indonesia and mountain ranges in Papua New Guinea. The continent will continue joining Asia over the next 40 million years.
Credits: Australia: Rise of the Continents (00:35)
Credits: Australia: Rise of the Continents
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