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WHO WAS GERARDUS MERCATOR?

Gerardus Mercator ("Ger-ARD-us Murr-KATE-ur") really was Gerhard Kremer. The name by which he was known was the Latin form. [My Latin name would be Writasaurus Brilliantus.]

He lived from 1512 to 1594, and was a Flemish geographer, mathematician, and cartographer. The Mercator map projection is described by the Concise Columbia Encyclopedia as "a cylindrical map projection of the features of the earth's surface that can be constructed only mathematically. The parallels of latitude, which on the globe are equal distances apart, are drawn with increasing separation as their distance from the equator increases in order to preserve shapes. However, areas are exaggerated with increasing distance from the equator. For instance, Greenland is shown with enormously exaggerated size, although its shape is preserved. The poles themselves cannot be shown on a Mercator projection. This type of projection gives an incorrect impression of the relative sizes of the world's countries."

Using a Mercator projection of the world, trace the outer edge of the continents that bound the Atlantic Ocean. Cut out the forms of the continents. Now use the pieces like a jigsaw puzzle to put the continents together so the margins match and the the Atlantic Ocean is no longer between them.

The high degree of fit tends to support the theory that the continents were once joined (during the Mesozoic Era some 120,000,000 years ago) but gradually drifted apart.

What might you expect to find in animal life and the stratification of rocks between the two continents?

Research reference sources to check out your hypotheses.

 
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