The World Today

The World Today
Earth in 2013

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Attenborough Plateau

The first of the “islands” in the Galapagos Mountains is the northwestern most, named Attenborough. The island is roughly the size of France that sits on average some six kilometers above the Sunspot Desert, and divided by a ridge that rises 12 kilometers above sea level. The Diamond Mountains receive their name from large, exposed deposits of quartz and other clear crystals. They sparkle in the sunlight. Had Hypnale orbited a whiter star, the Diamond Mountains would shine like diamonds. As is, the Ruby or Garnet Mountains might have been a more apt name. The mountains are steep, with some sheer cliffs of over a kilometer. Animals similar to mountain goats, geckos as well as the mountain sloth live in the otherwise barren mountains. Because of the crystal deposits, little in the way of soil exists in the mountains, and only the hardiest of lichen can survive there.
The western side of Attenborough is covered in dry scrubland forest. It is far less “verdant” than the rain forests straddling the planet’s terminator, but it adds a dash of purple to the otherwise bleak landscape far below. The forest exists since most of the rivers of Attenborough flow to the west, before ending in evaporating waterfall, seldom touching the desert below. Like with the mountains, the Forest Shores are populated by the diversified descendants of animals trapped by one mean or another atop the plateau. As mentioned, dozens of rivers flow from the Diamond Mountains. The forest is most lush on the banks of the rivers, but quickly thins over distance. The constant bombardment of direct sunlight supercharges the plants. Only water supply limits their conquest of all land around them. Animals of the forest have sizes inversely proportional to the density of the forests.

The eastern side of the plateau is covered by a sea of purple ferns. The Scarpian Plains are similar to savannas of Earth, only without the grasses. Animals can grow large on the plains. Again, their limit is dictated by water supply, not food. At least not directly. Lake Vincennes sits on the western edge of the plains, separating it from the mountains. The lake is deep, formed by a fissure in the crust. It can sink as low as three kilometers. The lake is fueled by rivers from the mountains (which are in turn fueled by mountain springs) or by water bubbling up from within Hypnale’s crust. There are no gilled animals this high away from life’s original water source. Animals found within the lake evolved from land-dwelling animals trapped on the plateau.