Convoluted insights

400 million years ago the Himalayas were at the bottom of an ocean.A keepsake from the summit

How do I know? Well, that ocean was home to tiny marine creatures. When those died, they became part of the sediment. Then, as the Indian and Asian tectonic plates collided, the sea floor was thrust up, forming what we today know as the Himalayas. The tallest peak in that mountain range is Mt Everest, which was famously conquered in 1953 by Sir Edmund Hillary. On that historic occasion, Hillary picked up a handful of small rocks from just a few metres below the summit and brought them home to New Zealand. In 2010 his wife, Lady June Hillary, donated 17 of Hillary’s belongings to the Otago Museum, which is now displaying them in a stairwell exhibition (very appropriately…). The museum’s 2012 Wall Calendar features artefacts from that exhibition, and last week I received one of those calendars. The December page of that calendar shows one of the Ordovician limestone shards that Hillary brought home from Everest, and it explains that this rock contains fossils of tiny marine creatures that lived in the ancient Tethys Sea 400 million years ago.

Knowledge moves in mysterious ways.

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