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The Southern Continent was home to the initial human settlements on Pern. It was far larger than either of the two other continents, extending around the entire planet. It experienced a far more pleasant climate than the Northern or Far West Continents.
The Southern Continent is by far the largest of Pern's continents. For the most part this continent was covered in dense forest and jungle, which greatly restrained the exploration that was desired by northern holders. In the west of the continent the jungles gave way to desert, while in the south huge mountains separated them from snowy wastes. The Southern Continent had a more temperate climate than the Northern Continent, but also had more volcanic and tectonic activity. An eruption early in Pern's colonization would force the mass relocation of the population to the Northern Continent. Because of the dense forests and jungles, the two Weyrs in this area are located in open areas, rather than the cave complexes of Northern Weyrs.
This continent also hosted a large number of water-bodies. In particular, the Sea of Azov was a vast inland sea that penetrated the mountains in the south. It contained many rocks and small islands across its great width.
Plants tended to grow to much larger sizes in the south, because of the better climate. They were also resistant to Thread, thanks to the grubs bred by Ted Tubberman, one of the initial colonists. Grubs would consume Thread, preventing the burrows that would have otherwise eliminate organic material. Grubs were also theorized to help plant life grow due to the aeration of the soil they provided.
It was nearly impossible to forge a way through the dense foliage that regrew rapidly, and so exploration was limited.
The Southern Continent had several animal species unique to it. Trundlebugs are common, and can often be seen trudging along in a single direction. The species is considered a nuisance, due to the intense stink given off when they are disturbed. Felines, descendants of an metasynth experiment gone wrong, are also common. Felines are known for attacking livestock, and in at least one case, dragons, leading to calls for a way of reducing species numbers. Grubs are a more beneficial species, due to their ability to consume Thread.
As with the Northern Continent, the Southern Continent also has wherries, which are a common food source. Wild Fire Lizards make nests along the coastlines.
The Southern Continent served as the primary settlement during Pern's early colonization. However, natural disasters, along with Thread, forced the settlers to relocate on short notice. Grubs, which were created during this time, were left to proliferate, which helped to protect the plant life in absence of other means of protection. Over time, knowledge of Pern's early history was lost. Most Pernese would come to believe that the Southern Continent was barren, as it was not protected by dragons.
The Southern Continent would return to importance during the early Ninth Pass, when it was suggested as a possible site by Benden's Weyrleaders to send their weyrlings back in time to mature. Lessa and F'nor would fly to the Southern Continent and be shocked by the lush environment. The weyrlings, however, would be forced to return after three years rather than the proposed ten, due to mental strain. However, the Southern venture would result in the founding of Southern Weyr, which initially served to protect settlers and as a place for injured riders to recuperate. The discovery of grubs would lead to vulnerable areas of the Northern Continent being seeded.
After the banishment of the Oldtimers, much of the continent was considered off-limits. Exploration was taken in secret. The discovery of the initial landing site would provide the knowledge of the true size of the continent by means of ancient maps. As time went on, and the Oldtimers' numbers began to dwindle, the continent was reopened. The Benden Weyrleaders would open up a portion of the continent to settlement, while retaining a portion for themselves in the hopes of having dragonriders be independent, rather than relying on tithes for support.