The World Today

The World Today
Earth in 2013

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Galapagos Mountains

Siting near the southern coast of the Sunspot Desert is a rather tall mountain range, with some peaks exceeding ten kilometers above sea level. The mountain range is divided into four main plateaus, each over six kilometers high and covering over a hundred thousand square kilometers. From northwest to southeast, the plateaus are named Attenborough, Darwin, Hanzhou and Coppin. What makes the Galapagos Mountains of special interest is that at their altitude, the air is drastically cooler. Despite being in perpetual sunlight, the Galapagos have a relative comfortable temperature, something a kin to the Ethiopian Highlands.

They get their name from the islands on Earth, where life is extremely diverse over a small area. Like their namesake, the Galapagos Mountains are a workshop for evolution. They are oases in an otherwise inhospitable environment. Any lifeforms that can climb their steep slopes to the flatter area above the heat of the desert, quickly adapt and thrive. Parts of the mountains have surface water, mostly in the form of springs bubbling to the surface. Winds, which blow out from the desert, make rain extremely rare. Aside from the springs, the land is still rather arid.

The environment is mostly steppe in nature, with vast fields of purple spread out before the observer. Where water is plentiful, forests of drought-resistant plants grow. Several of the desert species’ seed were blown up the side of the Galapagos, but not all adapted. Some of the Sunspot Desert’s plants are so specialized, that too much water can kill them. Hunting pods will not be found in the Galapagos. For those plants that did survive, they grow far larger than the desert plants, and over the course of millions of years, one desert species can evolve into an entire family, with numerous genera and species.

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