We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a Land Bridge?

Michael Anissimov
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
CulturalWorld.org is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At CulturalWorld.org, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A land bridge is an isthmus or some other land-based connection between two otherwise disconnected islands or continents. Land bridges are important ecologically because they allow the exchange of plants and/or animals that are otherwise separated, sometimes by millions of years of independent evolution. Land bridges are often transient, appearing and disappearing over geological time due to rising and falling sea levels.

The most famous land bridge in Earth's history is probably the Bering land bridge, which existed from present-day eastern Russia to Alaska about 20,000 years ago, during the last glacial period. During this time, sea levels were approximately 120 meters (394 ft) below today's levels, due to the huge quantities of ice locked up in continental glaciers. The Bering land bridge allowed humans to migrate from Asia to the Americas. After they crossed over, it is thought that they migrated down the coastline.

Though the Bering land bridge is the most famous, there were several other land bridges in the world at the same time. These include the large tract of low-lying tundra in what is today the south North Sea, which has been dubbed Doggerland, after the Dogger Bank, a large sand bank in the area today. Doggerland connected together England with continental Europe, and a separate land bridge connected England to Ireland. The earliest inhabitants of these islands made it across via land bridges.

There were extensive land bridges between islands in present-day Indonesia, connected them to the southeast Asian mainland. These made it possible for early humans to travel from Africa to islands like Borneo. In what is the first confirmed instance of humans traveling over a significant stretch of open ocean, early man built rafts and made it across the present-day Wallace Line, a deep sea channel in central Indonesia that separates the fauna of west Indonesia (which is more Asian) from east Indonesia (more Australian). From the east side of the Wallace Line, these people reached New Guinea and Australia, which were also connected by land bridges.

Further back in the past, about 2 million years ago, one of the world's most ecologically significant land bridges formed -- that between North and South America. Unlike the other land bridges discussed, this was formed by continental drift rather than lowered sea levels. As South America had previously been isolated for tens of millions of years, this exposed the continent to the flora and fauna of essentially the rest of the world (Europe, Africa, Asia, and North America were all connected). Generally speaking, the North American fauna dominated the South American fauna, though some South American animals did thrive in North America, for instance, the opossum.

CulturalWorld.org is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Michael Anissimov
By Michael Anissimov
Michael Anissimov is a dedicated CulturalWorld.org contributor and brings his expertise in paleontology, physics, biology, astronomy, chemistry, and futurism to his articles. An avid blogger, Michael is deeply passionate about stem cell research, regenerative medicine, and life extension therapies. His professional experience includes work with the Methuselah Foundation, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence, and Lifeboat Foundation, further showcasing his commitment to scientific advancement.
Discussion Comments
By lluviaporos — On May 23, 2012

Reading about a land bridge makes me think about the Swiss Family Robinson movie.

In the movie they are stranded on a tropical island that just happens to have all kinds of African animals on it, many of which had no business being on a smallish island, since they were too large to establish a real population there.

Some of the animals came with the Robinsons, of course, but not all of them.

And the explanation in the end is that the island was recently attached to the mainland by an isthmus or land bridge or was perhaps the remains of a land bridge that had since disappeared.

It still didn't make any sense, since the animals were all from different areas of Africa and India but at least it tried to give somewhat of an explanation as to why they kept coming across monkeys and tigers and ostriches.

By bythewell — On May 23, 2012

@pleonasm - Well, we are raised to see extinction as always being a bad thing, which it usually is for us, since the extinctions we're witnessing right now are happening way too fast.

But when the two continents of North and South America were joined by a land bridge, the extinctions in South America (and, I'm sure, in North America as well) would have happened slowly and naturally.

All the animals wouldn't have rushed across at once. A land bridge theory of migration would have them move slowly across and slowly fan out over the new land.

As they gradually out-competed the natives, the new comers would also be adapting and new species would appear.

I mean, if the dinosaurs hadn't eventually gone extinct, we wouldn't have the birds and mammals we have today. The fauna and flora of the Americas would look radically different if they never formed a land bridge.

By pleonasm — On May 22, 2012

I know the world is constantly changing and there's no way to stop that, but it does make me sad that there must have been a huge extinction of plants and animals following the establishment of the "land bridge" between North and South America (what is now known as Central America).

I mean, South America must have been really amazing back then, much the way that Australia and New Zealand are completely unique now.

It's still pretty amazing, of course, in terms of unique wildlife, but I guess extinction always makes me sad, whether it is from man made events or natural catalysts.

Michael Anissimov
Michael Anissimov
Michael Anissimov is a dedicated CulturalWorld.org contributor and brings his expertise in paleontology, physics,...
Learn more
CulturalWorld.org, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

CulturalWorld.org, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.