CHAPTER XII. GEOGRAPHICAL DISTRIBUTION.
5. ALTERNATE GLACIAL PERIODS IN THE NORTH AND SOUTH.
But we must return to our more immediate subject. I am convinced that
Forbes's view may be largely extended. In Europe we meet with the plainest
evidence of the Glacial period, from the western shores of Britain to the
Ural range, and southward to the Pyrenees. We may infer from the frozen
mammals and nature of the mountain vegetation, that Siberia was similarly
affected. In the Lebanon, according to Dr. Hooker, perpetual snow formerly
covered the central axis, and fed glaciers which rolled 4,000 feet down the
valleys. The same observer has recently found great moraines at a low
level on the Atlas range in North Africa. Along the Himalaya, at points
900 miles apart, glaciers have left the marks of their former low descent;
and in Sikkim, Dr. Hooker saw maize growing on ancient and gigantic
moraines. Southward of the Asiatic continent, on the opposite side of the
equator, we know, from the excellent researches of Dr. J. Haast and Dr.
Hector, that in New Zealand immense glaciers formerly descended to a low
level; and the same plants, found by Dr. Hooker on widely separated
mountains in this island tell the same story of a former cold period. From
facts communicated to me by the Rev. W.B. Clarke, it appears also that
there are traces of former glacial action on the mountains of the south-
eastern corner of Australia.
Looking to America: in the northern half, ice-borne fragments of rock have
been observed on the eastern side of the continent, as far south as
latitude 36 and 37 degrees, and on the shores of the Pacific, where the
climate is now so different, as far south as latitude 46 degrees. Erratic
boulders have, also, been noticed on the Rocky Mountains. In the
Cordillera of South America, nearly under the equator, glaciers once
extended far below their present level. In central Chile I examined a vast
mound of detritus with great boulders, crossing the Portillo valley, which,
there can hardly be a doubt, once formed a huge moraine; and Mr. D. Forbes
informs me that he found in various parts of the Cordillera, from latitude
13 to 30 degrees south, at about the height of 12,000 feet, deeply-furrowed
rocks, resembling those with which he was familiar in Norway, and likewise
great masses of detritus, including grooved pebbles. Along this whole
space of the Cordillera true glaciers do not now exist even at much more
considerable heights. Further south, on both sides of the continent, from
latitude 41 degrees to the southernmost extremity, we have the clearest
evidence of former glacial action, in numerous immense boulders transported
far from their parent source.