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Leopard individual characteristics and the Waterberg rock formation

2 April 2014

www.leopard.tv

This shows a leopard that is lying in the sun on a high rock in a camp. The leopard is totally at ease because the hind legs are spread out to the side and are not tucked up underneath the body. Moreover, the ears and head of the leopard are up and the tail shows no sign of twitching as it would be doing when the leopard is agitated. Nonetheless, the ears are being turned around to pick up any signs of possible approaching danger. This leopard has a characteristic chevron-shaped combination of spots on the throat.

The rock on which the leopard is lying is an excellent example of the ancient origins of the Waterberg Mountain Range where Shayamanzi is located. It consists of petrified sediment that is imbedded with round shingles. The Waterberg Mountain Range was formed in a huge lake basin that once stretched south and east as far as the Barberton region near the Kruger National Park. This basin was filled gradually with sediments that were eroded at a wetter time from an erstwhile high mountain that had formed in the Limpopo River valley as a result of pressure between the Cape-Vaal and Zimbabwe tectonic plates. This mountain is considered to have once been taller than Kilimandjaro Mountain in Tanzania, but it gradually eroded totally. The Cape-Vaal, Zimbabwe, Congo and Pilbara tectonic plates once joined to form the first Super Continent Ur on the Earth. Later Ur rifted apart and the Pilbara plate now forms part of the mineral-rich Pilbara region of north-western Australia. The original ancient lake basin was filled with water that was rich in oxygen year round as a result of the abundance of blue-green algae. This oxygen combined with ferrous sediments to form the iron oxide which lead to the typically red geological formation of the Waterberg Mountain Range some 1.8 billion years ago. This was the first indication on the Earth of waters that were rich in oxygen year round. Elsewhere, red and white banded rock formations indicate an intermittent presence of oxygen in the water with no iron oxide forming in dry seasons. The gold deposits in the Witwatersrand System are some 2 billion years old and do not yet show evidence of oxygen in the water when they were deposited. When climate changes and geomorphologic processes caused the lake to dry up, the softer geological formations around the lake bed became eroded and left the Waterberg Mountain Range as one of the largest lopoliths (inverted rock saucer) on the Earth with the rocks mainly consisting of petrified sediment and shingle conglomerates. These rocks are abundant on Shayamanzi. Mountain ranges such as the Himalaya, Rocky and Andes Mountains are only some 50 million years old and are not sedimentary in origin but were formed by the pressure of tectonic plates pushing against each other.

References:

Bothma, J du P & C Walker 2005. The soul of the Waterberg. Houghton: Waterberg Publishers and African Sky Publishing, pp 19 – 35.

McCarthy, T & B Rubidge 2005. The story of Earth & Life. Cape Town: Struik.

Video interpretation by Prof J du P Bothma

 

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