Continental drift is the hypothesis that the Earth's continents have moved over geologic time relative to each other, thus appearing to have "drifted" across the ocean bed. The idea of continental drift has been subsumed into the science of plate tectonics, which studies the movement of the continents as they ride on plates of the Earth's lithosphere.
The speculation that continents might have "drifted" was first put forward by Abraham Ortelius in 1596. A pioneer of the modern view of mobilism was the Austrian geologist Otto Ampferer. The concept was independently and more fully developed by Alfred Wegener in his 1915 publication, "The Origin of Continents and Oceans". However, at that time the hypothesis was rejected by many for lack of any motive mechanism. The English geologist Arthur Holmes later proposed mantle convection for that mechanism.
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