Gondwana is the name given to the southern portion of the super-continent Pangaea. It stretched from the Equator to the South Pole. Not much is known about formation and the early history of Gondwana. Recent research suggests that in the early Cambrian, between 500 and 600mya, Gondwana rapidly rotated 60 degrees, so that all regions experienced accelerated climate change. Scientists are still trying to determine whether that rotation was caused by the pressure of tectonic plates against each other or by polar wander. At the same time the globe was experiencing an explosion in animal and plant life; ancestors of modern flowering plants spread from the older cratons all across Gondwana. After separating from Pangaea, in the early Mesozoic, 200 mya, Gondwana broke into five fragments which would form the continents of Africa, South America, Antarctica and Australia, and the subcontinent of India, as well as clusters of associated islands of which the biggest are Madagascar, New Guinea and New Zealand. The actual sequence of events is still poorly understood; every year brings new puzzles and new discoveries.
Click here to see an animation illustrating the history of Gondwana.