name of a region in north central India, from Sanskrit gondavana, from vana "forest" + Gonda, name of a Dravidian people, literally "fleshy navel, outie belly-button." The name was extended by geologists to a series of sedimentary rocks found there (1873), then to identical rocks in other places; the fossils found in this series were used by geologists to reconstruct the ancient southern supercontinent, which therefore was called Gondwanaland (1896), from German, where it was coined by German geologist Eduard Suess (1831-1914) in 1885.
A supercontinent of the Southern Hemisphere made up of the landmasses that currently correspond to India, Australia, Antarctica, and South America. According to the theory of plate tectonics, Gondwanaland separated from Pangaea at the end of the Paleozoic Era and broke up into the current continents in the middle of the Mesozoic Era. Compare Laurasia.