An Ancient World – December 2, 2020


A few weeks ago, we climbed Texas’ highpoint: Guadalupe Peak (8750 ft./2667 m). This is a very interesting state highpoint in that it is made up of the remains of creatures that inhabited an inland sea and built a reef in the region over 265 million years ago! How did the reef even get there? After all, the state highpoint is now in the dry Chihuahuan Desert!
About 335 million years ago, the continents collided to form a supercontinent called Pangaea. These collisions caused a large area of continental crust to warp downward (in what is now Texas) to form a basin that quickly filled with seawater. A marine reef (the “Capitan Reef’) grew along the edges of a portion of this seaway and over millions of years, the reef became a massive structure about 400 miles in length!
Plate tectonics eventually brought up some of this long-lost world to the surface – revealing the ancient home of billions and billions of marine animals and plants cemented together by calcium carbonate. Unlike modern reefs which are composed primarily of corals, the Capitan Reef’s dominant creatures were many different kinds of sponges, as well as numerous species of algae and shelled creatures.
Pictured is an example of ancient fossilized algae! For more photos and details, please check out our Facebook page.
photo: U Horodyskyj