Huge Mountains Fed Ocean Life 600M Years Ago
Range stretched 1.5K miles from Africa to South America
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 17, 2014 1:50 PM CDT

(Newser) – Scientists have discovered evidence of an ancient mountain range that spread 1,550 miles from Africa to South America back when the two continents were one. And strange as it may sound, the massive mountain range on the supercontinent Gondwana, similar in size to the Himalayas, actually fed our oceans millions of years ago. "Just like the Himalayas, this range was eroded intensely because it was so huge," the study's co-author tells the Australian National University. "As the sediments washed into the oceans they provided the perfect nutrients for life to flourish." The study authors add that their 600-million-year-old find marks the earliest evidence of a large-scale mountain range, comparable to the Himalayas, on the planet.

Researchers guessed that such a mountain range existed "because of the way life thrived and ocean chemistry changed at this time, and finally we have found it," a researcher says. Though the mountains are long gone, the "rocks from their roots told the story of the ancient mountain range's grandeur," another adds. Such rocks have been found in both Mali and Brazil, Eureka Alert reports. Scientists analyzed the samples and discovered they were not only of similar age, but also formed at similar depths. They say the samples indicate the mountains formed when two continents collided, sending rocks 62 miles into the Earth's mantle. (Meanwhile, geologists say they've discovered why the Appalachian mountain chain bends.)