Monday, January 11, 2010

"The Height of Beauty" was not always so

The Sierra Nevada reached their present height 50 million years ago -- 30 million years earlier than geologists once believed, according to a new study.

The research, part of a growing body of evidence that the Sierra Nevada are far older than once thought, has implications for understanding the evolution of the plants and animals in the West, as well as the likely climate of ancient North America.

The study, by scientists at Yale University and the Berkeley Museum of Paleontology, used 50 million-year-old chemical traces left on ancient leaves by microbes and raindrops to calculate the new height estimate for the Sierras at that time.

The western United States would have looked very different then, filled with lush forests of vines and magnolias. The Pacific Ocean would have lapped the foot of the Sierra.

Shown above is "Sierra Morning" by Carol Tarzier. To see more of her exciting images, go to her website which follows:

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