NAMIB DESERT

Long Durational Natural Phenomenon

Existence of Namib Desert 

Duration: 55 Million Years 

Text via World Wide Fund for Nature
Cover photograph CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Pierre Lasage

"The world's oldest desert, the Namib Desert has existed for at least 55 million years, completely devoid of surface water but bisected by several dry riverbeds. These riverbeds are vegetated and are home to a few ungulates, such as Hartmann’s zebras. The south of the desert is extremely dry and even lacks dry riverbeds; gemsbok is the only large mammal to occur in this harsh environment. Thick fogs are frequent along the coast and are the life-blood of the desert, providing enough moisture for a number of interesting, highly-adapted animal species to survive. The Namib Desert is well protected in a series of National Parks, Recreation Areas and Protected Diamond Areas. 

The arid conditions of the Namib Desert probably started with the continental split of West Gondwana 130 million to 145 million years ago when this area shifted to its present position along the Tropic of Capricorn. This lengthy dry period has had a profound influence on the region’s biodiversity. The region has remained a relatively stable center for the evolution of desert species. This has resulted in a unique array of biodiversity with high levels of endemism and numerous advanced adaptations to arid conditions."


Photograph CC BY-SA 3.0 Thomas Schoch

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