Imagining Science: James Hutton
By Luke Dyer
James Hutton's Theory
James Hutton had a theory called continental drift. This theory was that at one point all the continents of the world were joined together at one time (called a pangea). He made this theory, when he found that the same fossils where in Scotland, Greenland and also north america. He decided that it would be very unlikely if they had travelled via the ocean so he thought maybe all the continents were together at one point in time.
Scientists need to have an imagination to believe his theories as the continents don't fit perfectly but if you try and piece them together (see picture below) you can see that they all fit close together. His theory helped to determine around how old the earth is 4.45 billion years of age as he looked at the rocks and how long it would have taken for the fossils to have occurred in sedementation in rocks like marble. Scientists know the age of the earth by looking and dating fossils, looking at the length of time for the rocks to sediment in many layers and to also look at continental drift.
James Hutton was a scientist that was born in Germany in the 1880's. He made a theory about continental drift (at one point the continents were all one thing called pangea) but as he didn't train to be a geoologist no one believed his theories and just ignored him completely as he they thought he didn't know what he was saying.
The thing that made Hutton's theory a good scientific explanation about continental drift was that it had lots of evidence backing it up, (it wasn't mad or far-fetched like aliens moved the continent's) he spread his word about his theory and also he went to go test it out by finding fossils in different parts of the world.
To sum it up a non geologist named James Hutton made a theory called continental drift, he found lots of evidence for it but nobody believed him as he wasn't a geologist. He knew he was right as he found the same fossil in three different continents next to each other and discovering this theory he was also able to determine the approximate age of the earth by looking at the sedimented rocks.