Australia and New Zealand once formed part of a huge southern land mass now referred to as Gondwanaland, whereas northern hemisphere continents were once aggregated into Laurasia. Gondwanaland and Laurasia began to disaggregate about 160 million years ago. Prior to this time, the southern hemisphere land masses and India were connected into Gondwanaland, while North America, Europe and much of Asia formed Laurasia.
South Africa, Madagascar, India, South America, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Australia and various other fragments broke away and drifted northwards, leaving Antarctica behind. Australia and South America were the last major land masses to separate from Antarctica, Australia beginning slowly about 90 to 100 million years ago and establishing a deep ocean passage some 30 to 40 million years ago.
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