Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Tepuys Are Cool

I have long been obsessed by Mount Roraima and tepuys, and it's easy to see why. (This is the second time I'm blogging about them.) They are a chain of sheer-walled flat-topped mountains jutting vertically a thousand meters from the Venezuelan and Brazilian jungle. Some of them are over a hundred miles from the closest road, but even if you could drive right up to the base of one of them, so what? Their isolation produces their alienness, with reproductive isolation producing bizarre frogs with long legs, carnivorous plants, and other evolutionary nonsense. The only communication between the summits and the surrounding jungle is by flying animals, and many of them were not reached by humans until the 60s and 70s with aircraft (or more recently by balloon in the movie Up.) Adding to this they also have deep sinkholes that are cut off even from the surrounding plateaus. The weather at the top is frigid, rarely breaking 10 degrees centigrade, making life hard for whatever jungle-adapted organisms find themselves stranded up there. Combine all this with the extreme weathering of the summit plateaus - they're two billion years old, with predictable bizarre rock formations and bedrock constantly swept clean of nutrients by daily rain - and you have the recipe for what is easily the strangest place on this planet.

Though normally I'm intrigued by trying to get to bizarre places, in this case I'm quite content to read about the mountain in biologists' reports. This report goes out of its way to warm about the rain and the damp, and I believe him - the few pictures I've seen of people at the top makes it look unpleasantly moist in all respects. This report is written in an inappropriately cheerful tone, given the description of inch-long ants eating their faces and flying beetles they mistook for birds.

Images 1, 2, and 5 from All That Is Interesting. 3 is from profanofeminino.com, 4 is from Wiki.

One can be forgiven for thinking that Roraima is a boundary not just for three countries, but for other dimensions.

I made it onto Boingboing with my other blog post for pointing out that these mountains clearly demonstrate we are in a simulation, and that the simulation is Minecraft.

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