HomeNewsLost Range of ‘Supermountains’ Could Be Longer Than Himalayas

Lost Range of ‘Supermountains’ Could Be Longer Than Himalayas

by Madison Miller
Photo by: Creative Touch Imaging Ltd./NurPhoto via Getty Images

There’s no question that Earth has some outright amazing and massive mountain ranges to boast about. Some of the biggest mountain ranges include the Andes, Southern Great Escarpment, the Rocky Mountains, and the Himalayas.

It’s hard to believe that our planet once had mountains ranges that were as tall as the Himalayas but stretched thousands of miles farther. These were called supermountains. There were actually two separate occasions in which these ancient supermountains actually ended up splitting supercontinents into two pieces.

Even today, we continue to study what these supermountains may have looked like.

“There’s nothing like these two supermountains today. It’s not just their height — if you can imagine the 1,500 miles long Himalayas repeated three or four times, you get an idea of the scale,” Ziyi Zhu, the lead author of a new study regarding these mountains, said to Live Science.

People today flock to the world’s largest peaks and mountain ranges. Some even are as bold as to attempt to climb the Seven Summits, which are the highest mountains on each of the traditional continents.

It’s amazing to think about these historic monsters of mountains.

More on These Amazing Supermountains

Not to mention, this new study shows that the formation and destruction of two of these supermountains fueled two of the biggest evolutionary booms in human history. That includes the first appearance of complex cells, which was two billion years ago. It also includes the Cambrian explosion of marine life, which was 541 million years ago.

Sadly, mountain ranges all come with a somewhat depressing downward-ticking stopwatch that signals the eventual expiration date. Erosion will eventually whittle away at the mountains completely. It just takes millions of years.

Additionally, the new study focused a lot on zircons as well. This is a type of crystal that forms under high pressure and deep below large mountain ranges. By looking at the distribution of these crystals, researchers can see just how enormous these supermountains were. In fact, it’s estimated they were about twice the distance from Florida to California.

Oldest Mountain Range in the World

Sometimes, our brains may just assume the biggest and tallest mountain ranges are older. However, size is definitely a way to indicate the age of mountain ranges, but it’s the other way around.

The tall mountain ranges like the Himalayas are actually younger. Meanwhile, the ranges with shorter peaks tend to be younger, such as the Appalachians. This isn’t a perfect system and it can still be rather difficult to determine which ranges have been around the longest.

Live Science reports that Makhonjwa Mountains in southern Africa are on the extremely old side. They are 2,000 to 5,900 feet and have rocks that are 3.6 billion years old. Others like the Snake Range are thought to have appeared only 30 million years ago instead.