Geography of selected portions of the Earth's surface at specific times in the geologic past. The simplest kind of paleogeography is a map showing the locations of ancient lands and seas, but paleogeographic maps may also show the occurrence and distribution of fossil, plant, and animal communities; environments of sedimentation (e.g., deltas, reefs, deserts, or deep-sea basins); areas undergoing uplift and erosion or subsidence and deposition; and major climatic zones.
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In petroleum geology the term paleogeographic analysis is used for the detailed study of sedimentary basins, since the ancient geomorphological environments of the Earth's surface is preserved in the stratigraphic record. Paleogeographers also study the sedimentary environment associated with fossils to aid in the understanding of evolutionary development of extinct species. The reconstructions of prehistoric continents and oceans depends on paleogeographic evidence. Thus paleogeography provided critical evidence for the development of continental drift and current plate tectonic theories. For example, knowledge of the shape and latitudinal location of supercontinents such as Pangaea and ancient oceans such as Panthalassa result from paleogeographic studies.