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Millions of years ago, the American Southwest sat next to East Antarctica

12:58pm, July 10, 2008

What a juxtaposition: About 800 million years ago, East Antarctica, now one of the coldest regions on Earth, abutted what is now California’s Death Valley, one of the hottest.

Both locales were part of an equatorial supercontinent called Rodinia, says John Goodge, a geologist at the University of Minnesota Duluth.

The motion of tectonic plates continually rearranges Earth’s continents, sometimes cramming most or all of them into immense groupings called supercontinents.

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