Alfred Wegener, German geophysicist

Alfred Wegener, German geophysicist

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Credit: GARY BROWN/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Alfred Wegener (1880-1930), German geophysicist and proposer of the theory of continental drift, holding depictions of the continents of South America and Africa. Based on the matching continental coastlines, Wegener suggested in 1912 that there had once been a single supercontinent (which he called Pangaea) that had fragmented and drifted apart into the continents we know today. Although he supported his argument with sound evidence, he was at a loss to explain the underlying mechanism, and the theory was discounted during his lifetime. Later discoveries proved him right and led to the new discipline of plate tectonics.

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