Friday, May 11, 2012

The Lost World

Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World is still a great read 100 years after it was first published. There's a lot of humor in it, and it really holds up very well.

You might be more familiar with the various movie and television treatments of it, but the basic idea behind the story is pretty well known: Professor Challenger finds living dinosaurs on a high plateau in the heart of the Amazon jungle.

Anyway, until today, I guess I never realized that the story's setting was real. Oh, not the dinosaurs (unless you include their little feathered descendents). But those high plateaus really exist.

From the New York Times:
Looming over the northern edge of the Amazon rain forest are some of the most remarkable mountains on earth. Known as tepuis, or tabletop mountains, they are typically ringed by sheer cliffs that rise thousands of feet from the surrounding lowland jungles. Instead of peaks, tepuis have enormous flat expanses at their tops. To reach the tops of many tepuis, the only choices are scaling the cliffs or flying in a helicopter.

For all their isolation, the tops of tepuis are not barren. They are like islands in the sky, covered with low forests and shrublands that support a diversity of animals likes frogs and lizards. Many of the species that live on top of the tepuis are found nowhere else on the planet. ...

Tepuis owe their fame in good measure to “The Lost World,” Arthur Conan Doyle’s 1912 novel, in which he drew from accounts of early explorers to imagine an isolated ecosystem on top of a tepui where dinosaurs and pterosaurs still lived. Tepuis have also figured in Hollywood movies, from the 1925 dramatization of “The Lost World” to the 2009 animated film “Up.”

I just thought this was neat. Why did I never realize these were real? I guess I just assumed it was all fiction, instead of just part of it.

I'm sure you already knew this, but somehow, I'd missed it. Well, you learn something new every day, huh? :)


Chimeradave said...

This is neat. I didn't realize these existed either.

WCG said...

Thanks, John. I'm glad I'm not the only one! :)