Similar to today, most of the planet during the Triassic period was covered by ocean, but the distribution of the landmasses was not the same. Scientists believe there was essentially one large expanse of water called the Panthalassa Ocean. It surrounded the one very large landmass, or supercontinent, called Pangea, meaning “all Earth.” This giant landmass straddled the planet’s equator roughly in the form of a “C”; the smaller body of water enclosed by the “C” on the east was known as the Tethys Sea (or Tethys Ocean). Only a few scattered bits of continental crust were not attached to Pangea, and lay to the east of the larger continent. They included pieces of what we now call Manchuria (northern China), eastern China, Indochina, and bits of central Asia. In addition, the sea level was low, and there was no ice at the polar regions.
Continental plate movements have a variety of effects upon the planet, ranging from shifts in temperature to devastating earthquakes. Plate tectonics affect us today, just as they affected the dinosaurs millennia ago (iStock).