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In my story, a group of scientific explorers go on a expedition to a planet, and I don't know if it should be a super continent because of the diverse life there could be. There are deserts, forest, savannahs, and mountain ranges with snow. Would creatures be as diverse in these if it was all connected or across oceans on different continents?

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    $\begingroup$ Why wouldn't it be? The non-super continents on Earth have a similar range of biomes to what you're proposing (with the one obvious exception). $\endgroup$
    – Cadence
    Oct 20 '21 at 2:07
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    $\begingroup$ You can have great diversity in a much smaller area. For instance, take a northwest-southeast line from the California coast: redwood forest in a damp maritime climate gives way to low mountains mostly covered in pine, the Sacramento Valley with its (pre industrial agriculture) native wildflowers, more pine-covered mountains rising to alpine tundra, then descending to more pines, then sagebrush desert giving way to lower desert with Joshua trees &c. $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Oct 20 '21 at 4:11
  • $\begingroup$ If I'm not mistaken China alone has a variety of different climates and life, including deserts, mountains, wetlands and tropical forests, and it's not even a full continent. Africa itself also has a similar variety of climates and biomes throughout its territory. $\endgroup$ Oct 22 '21 at 13:16
  • $\begingroup$ yes, yes it can $\endgroup$ Nov 15 '21 at 21:04
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While oceans make very effective isolation mechanisms, there are others. This will be not so much the physical effect of, say, very high mountains as the incompatibility of habitats.

As a plain grows colder, the farther it gets from the equator, the fauna and flora will shift. Perhaps clinally, so that in theory genes could pass from artic to tropical regions, but the tropical and artic subspecies could not interbreed directly.

Then there are difference of the habitats such as grass grazers who can not live in the swamp because the footing is so uncertain, and arboreal monkeys that can not leave the swamp's trees for the grassy plains.

An enormous variety is possible.

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  • $\begingroup$ good to know thank you $\endgroup$ Oct 20 '21 at 2:10
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Sure. Even if a Pangea like continent complicates a bit the atmospheric circulation and the precipitation distribution, you still have differences in elevation and solar irradiation which account for variation in local climate.

With different climates come also different life adapted to it.

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You don't need to look very far for a real life example. Only a few thousand years ago you could (with some minor humping over ice and a brief swim) walk the majority of the way around the planet from South Africa to the southern tip of South America, from 68 degrees South to 77 degrees North. Even considering only the present day, Africa/Eurasia forms what is by any measure a supercontinent that is 14,000 km from the Cape of Good Hope to the Taymyr Peninsula, and 14,600km or so from Dakar to the Bering Strait, and has been in essentially that position for 30 million years. Yet no shortage of diversity in climate, ecosystems, or biology.

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It depends on what kind of diversity of life you are talking about, and exactly where your super continent lies on the planet - ie, does it straddle the equator, or does it run north to south, etc.

We have gotten very unique species of animal for isolation in places like Australia, or of course, the classic example of the Galapagos islands. As has been mentioned by the others here, mountains, other landforms, and just distance in general can bring about biodiversity. If you are not aware of it, I recommend looking at the Youtube series "Alien Biospheres" by Biblaridion, as it is fantastic, and part of his imagined history on an alien world is on a super continent.

For a less scientific example for what you can do with a super continent, I recommend looking at Brandon Sanderson's Stormlight Archive, which takes place on the stormswept super continent of Roshar, and has amazing biodiversity. While the very large series is fantastic, this video gives a great introduction to what you'll find more useful in making an interesting supercontinent:

(Invicta, Welcome to Roshar | The Stormlight Archive - Lore Primer) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xL4M7Yx0SSE

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    $\begingroup$ It runs on the equator the middle of the planet and does have islands the biggest two have volcaneos one in the east and one in the south though is betwen west and south. there other small ones in the east of the equator and i have watched biblardions video just didnt know he made more so thanks.i have not watched roshar so the info helps and i have one big island way up in the north at the top of the planet think about it like its antartica but i dont think snow could be there since the sun would hit it $\endgroup$ Oct 20 '21 at 10:53

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