This episode explores the palaeogeography of Earth over millions of years, and its impact on the development of life on the planet.
The lignin-rich trees evolved in the Carboniferous era about 300 million years ago but were not edible by species at the time and would instead fall over and become carbon-rich coal.
50 million years later volcanic activity would burn the carbonaceous matter, releasing carbon dioxide and acidic components, creating a sudden greenhouse gas effect that warmed the oceans and released methane from the ocean beds, all leading towards the Permian–Triassic extinction event, killing 90% of the species on Earth.
Scientists like Abraham Ortelius hypothesized the idea that land masses may have been connected in the past.
Alfred Wegener hypothesized the idea of a super-continent Pangaea and continental drift despite the prevailing idea of flooded land-bridges at the time.
Bruce C. Heezen and Marie Tharp discovered the Mid-Atlantic Ridge that supported the theory of plate tectonics.
The show concludes by noting how Earth’s landmasses are expected to change in the future and postulates what may be the next great extinction event.