Who Proposed the Continental Drift Theory? Continental Drift Theory Guide for UPSC

continental drift theory upsc

Who proposed the theory of continental drift? The answer to this question is Alfred Wegner in 1912. He was a geophysicist and meteorologist. He believed that this theory explained why look-alike flora and fauna and fossils can be found in different parts of the globe.

Wegner states that all the continents were the first part of a single landmass called the “Pangea” an ancient Greek word that translated to all earth. He believed that all the continents broke up long ago and came into the positions they are today.

Who Introduced the Theory of Continental Drift?

Abraham Ortelius was a famous cartographer from the late 15th century. He was the first person to introduce the theory of continental drift.

He discovered that America and Africa fit together like pieces of jigsaw puzzles on a map and as times changed, a lot more evidence started to prove that Abraham was correct in his theory.

Acceptance of the Theory

Since many theories exist revolving around the continental drift people tend to ask who gave the theory of continental drift? The answer would be Alfred Wegner. His theory had given most information on continental drift.

Unfortunately, his model could not explain how the continents had moved, and thus, people started to debunk his theory regarding the continental drift.

In 1908, Frank Taylor put forth the theory that continents had drifted apart and upon collision caused landforms like mountains, plateaus, and hills to form.

Reason for Recline of Wegener’s Theory

Wegener held a Ph.D. in astronomy and was a meteorologist thus the members of the geological society of Germany believed that he did not possess the required knowledge in this field and his theory was completely debunked. Though he had a great introduction and information on the idea of continental drift, which caused the committee to become fixers vs drifters he failed to explain the movement of these continents.

His model on the separation land masses said that it was caused due to the seafloor, tidal waves, and earth’s rotation but the fixers stated that these forces were not strong enough to cause such great movement and any common fossils were found due to a bridge that existed between the continents that had now submerged into the great oceans.

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Studies of Wegner

Wegner studied various aspects of science to come up with this theory. He went in-depth with botany, biology, and geology to talk about Pangea.

He studied parts of plant fossils that he found common in various continents though they could not survive in conditions that existed in that continent,

He also learned stratigraphy of different rocks and mountains to help support his theory and prove that mountains and other landforms were caused due to the continental drift.

What Happened Next

After Wegner’s theory was debunked many scientists started working on his model and after further adaptations, today we learn about the tectonic plates.

Tectonic plates are massive pieces of the earth on which our land exists. These are constantly moving. Any large amount of change causes a lot of disturbances on the surface of the Earth.

Earthquakes on land, Whirlpools in the ocean are common calamities that are caused due to excessive movement in the tectonic plates.

It is believed that Africa soon will break into two parts due to these movements in the tectonic plates. These plates were identified through magnetic surveys of the floor


Alfred Wegner wanted to name the alleged single land of mass as Urkontinent which was from his native language, which was the German language. Ur meant first or original and kontinent meant continent thus the word meant to describe the landmass as the first continent on earth. Though, later on, he went on to stick to the ancient greek work Pangea for unknown reasons.

So, if such questions relating to this theory come in your UPSC exam do not get confused.


This article was written in hopes to explain the theory of continental drift in an easier manner for your IAS preparations. Does the article talk about who gave the theory of continental drift? Who introduced the theory of continental drift? And more such studies relating to this vast topic. You can find more such articles here for your UPSC exam. Boost your preparations today!

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Who Proposed the Continental Drift Theory? Continental Drift Theory Guide for UPSC
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Who Proposed the Continental Drift Theory? Continental Drift Theory Guide for UPSC
Learn about the continental drift theory for your UPSC exam. Who proposed it? Who introduced it? The basics of the continental drift theory for your IAS preparations
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