Continent (geography)
Originally, a very large contiguous landmass on Old Earth, separated or largely separated from other continents by ocean. By common convention, Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Antarctica, Europe, and Australia were regarded as continents, though some preferred to regard Europe as a subcontinent of a larger Eurasian continent. Land masses smaller than Australia, such as Greenland or New Guinea, were somewhat arbitrarily regarded as large islands.

Some Gaian class worlds, some terraformed worlds, and some extremely large habitats such as Banks Orbitals may also have land masses that are regarded by their inhabitants as continents. In such places, as on Old Earth, the designation of a geographic continent is more a matter of convention than definition. The geological definition of a continent is somewhat less subject to cultural interpretation.
 
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  • Antarctica
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    On Old Earth, the northern supercontinent formed after Pangea broke up during the Jurassic period. During the Cretaceous period Laurasia had a quite different dinosaurian and mammal fauna to that of Gondwana in the south. Laurasia itself broke up to become North America, Europe, Asia, Greenland, and Iceland.
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    Former Earth supercontinent consisting of all of the land masses. It existed during the Permian and Triassic periods, and began breaking up during the Jurassic, forming Gondwanaland and Laurasia. The single landmass resulted in an arid climate, and the absence of geographical barriers meant a ubiquitous terrestrial fauna. But climatic factors resulted in two or three distinct phytogeographic provinces, the Dicrodium Flora in the south and a Laurasian Flora in the north. The term Pangea is also applied to any similar planetary supercontinent on a tectonically active Gaian world.
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Development Notes
Text by Stephen Inniss

Initially published on 20 June 2010.