The Tethys Ocean was an ocean that existed between the continents of Gondwana and Laurasia during the Mesozoic era before the opening of the Indian Ocean.

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The Tethys Ocean was an ocean that existed between the continents of Gondwana and Laurasia during the Mesozoic era before the opening of the Indian Ocean. About 250 million years ago,during the Triassic, a new ocean began forming in the southern end of the Paleo-Tethys Ocean. A rift formed along the northern continental shelf of Southern Pangaea (Gondwana). Over the next 60 million years, that piece of shelf, known as Cimmeria, traveled north, pushing the floor of the Paleo-Tethys Ocean under the eastern end of Northern Pangaea (Laurasia). The Tethys Ocean formed between Cimmeria and Gondwana, directly over where the Paleo-Tethys used to be. In 1893, using fossil records from the Alps and Africa, Eduard Suess proposed the theory that an inland sea had once existed between Laurasia and the continents which formed Gondwana II. In this moment of Earth's life, however, these two continental masses were united in a unique supercontinent, known as Gondwana III or Pangaea. He named it the 'Tethys Sea' after the Greek sea goddess Tethys. When the theory of plate tectonics became established in the 1960s it became clear Suess's "sea" had in fact been an ocean. Plate tectonics also provided the mechanism by which the former ocean disappeared. In plate tectonic theory oceanic crust can subduct under continental crust.

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