The great Cretaceous period was drawing to a close, and its termination marks the end of the great sea invasions of the continents. Particularly is this true of North America, where there had been just twenty-four great inundations. And though there were subsequent minor submergences, none of these can be compared with the extensive and lengthy marine invasions of this and previous ages. These alternate periods of land and sea dominance have occurred in million-year cycles. There has been an agelong rhythm associated with this rise and fall of ocean floor and continental land levels. And these same rhythmical crustal movements will continue from this time on throughout the earth’s history but with diminishing frequency and extent.
This period also witnesses the end of the continental drift and the building of the modern mountains of Urantia. But the pressure of the continental masses and the thwarted momentum of their agelong drift are not the exclusive influences in mountain building. The chief and underlying factor in determining the location of a mountain range is the pre-existent lowland, or trough, which has become filled up with the comparatively lighter deposits of the land erosion and marine drifts of the preceding ages. These lighter areas of land are sometimes 15,000 to 20,000 feet thick; therefore, when the crust is subjected to pressure from any cause, these lighter areas are the first to crumple up, fold, and rise upward to afford compensatory adjustment for the contending and conflicting forces and pressures at work in the earth’s crust or underneath the crust. Sometimes these upthrusts of land occur without folding. But in connection with the rise of the Rocky Mountains, great folding and tilting occurred, coupled with enormous overthrusts of the various layers, both underground and at the surface.
The oldest mountains of the world are located in Asia, Greenland, and northern Europe among those of the older east-west systems. The mid-age mountains are in the circumpacific group and in the second European east-west system, which was born at about the same time. This gigantic uprising is almost ten thousand miles long, extending from Europe over into the West Indies land elevations. The youngest mountains are in the Rocky Mountain system, where, for ages, land elevations had occurred only to be successively covered by the sea, though some of the higher lands remained as islands. Subsequent to the formation of the mid-age mountains, a real mountain highland was elevated which was destined, subsequently, to be carved into the present Rocky Mountains by the combined artistry of nature’s elements.
The present North American Rocky Mountain region is not the original elevation of land; that elevation had been long since leveled by erosion and then re-elevated. The present front range of mountains is what is left of the remains of the original range which was re-elevated. Pikes Peak and Longs Peak are outstanding examples of this mountain activity, extending over two or more generations of mountain lives. These two peaks held their heads above water during several of the preceding inundations.
Biologically as well as geologically this was an eventful and active age on land and under water. Sea urchins increased while corals and crinoids decreased. The ammonites, of preponderant influence during a previous age, also rapidly declined. On land the fern forests were largely replaced by pine and other modern trees, including the gigantic redwoods. By the end of this period, while the placental mammal has not yet evolved, the biologic stage is fully set for the appearance, in a subsequent age, of the early ancestors of the future mammalian types.
And thus ends a long era of world evolution, extending from the early appearance of land life down to the more recent times of the immediate ancestors of the human species and its collateral branches. This, the Cretaceous age, covers fifty million years and brings to a close the premammalian era of land life, which extends over a period of one hundred million years and is known as the Mesozoic.
[Presented by a Life Carrier of Nebadon assigned to Satania and now functioning on Urantia.]