The British mainland was formed from the collision of not two, but three ancient continental land masses, according to new research.
Scientists have for centuries believed that England, Wales and Scotland were created by the merger of Avalonia and Laurentia more than 400 million years ago.
However, geologists based at the University of Plymouth now believe that a third land mass – Armorica – was also involved in the process.
The findings are published in Nature Communications and follow an extensive study of mineral properties at exposed rock features across Devon and Cornwall.
They reveal a clear boundary running across the two counties, with areas north of it sharing their geological roots with the rest of England and Wales but everything south being geologically linked to France and mainland Europe.
Among other things, scientists believe the research explains the abundance of tin and tungsten in the far South West of England – metals also found in Brittany and other areas of mainland Europe, but not so evident in the rest of the UK.