Definition: like a glacier; of an ice age; extremely cold; Ex. glacial epoch; CF. iceberg
Definition: like a glacier; of an ice age; extremely cold; Ex. glacial epoch; CF. iceberg
Sentences Containing 'glacial'
Glacial epochs are great things, but they are vague vague.
The chasm or gorge between Lover's Leap and the hill west of it is supposed by scientists to have been caused by glacial action.
Morrel expected Villefort would be dejected; he found him as he had found him six weeks before, calm, firm, and full of that glacial politeness, that most insurmountable barrier which separates the well bred from the vulgar man.
On this view, the capacity of enduring the most different climates by man himself and by his domestic animals, and the fact of the extinct elephant and rhinoceros having formerly endured a glacial climate, whereas the living species are now all tropical or sub-tropical in their habits, ought not to be looked at as anomalies, but as examples of a very common flexibility of constitution, brought, under peculiar circumstances, into action.
The many animals which have remained unchanged since the commencement of the glacial period, would have been an incomparably stronger case, for these have been exposed to great changes of climate and have migrated over great distances; whereas, in Egypt, during the last several thousand years, the conditions of life, as far as we know, have remained absolutely uniform.
The fact of little or no modification having been effected since the glacial period, would have been of some avail against those who believe in an innate and necessary law of development, but is powerless against the doctrine of natural selection or the survival of the fittest, which implies that when variations or individual differences of a beneficial nature happen to arise, these will be preserved; but this will be effected only under certain favourable circumstances.
It is an excellent lesson to reflect on the ascertained amount of migration of the inhabitants of Europe during the glacial epoch, which forms only a part of one whole geological period; and likewise to reflect on the changes of level, on the extreme change of climate, and on the great lapse of time, all included within this same glacial period.
It is not, for instance, probable that sediment was deposited during the whole of the glacial period near the mouth of the Mississippi, within that limit of depth at which marine animals can best flourish: for we know that great geographical changes occurred in other parts of America during this space of time.
When such beds as were deposited in shallow water near the mouth of the Mississippi during some part of the glacial period shall have been upraised, organic remains will probably first appear and disappear at different levels, owing to the migrations of species and to geographical changes.
And in the distant future, a geologist, examining these beds, would be tempted to conclude that the average duration of life of the embedded fossils had been less than that of the glacial period, instead of having been really far greater, that is, extending from before the glacial epoch to the present day.
Mr. Croll estimates that about sixty million years have elapsed since the Cambrian period, but this, judging from the small amount of organic change since the commencement of the Glacial epoch, appears a very short time for the many and great mutations of life, which have certainly occurred since the Cambrian formation; and the previous one hundred and forty million years can hardly be considered as sufficient for the development of the varied forms of life which already existed during the Cambrian period.
Consider the prodigious vicissitudes of climate during the pleistocene period, which includes the whole glacial epoch, and note how little the specific forms of the inhabitants of the sea have been affected.
Watson) from their somewhat northern character, in comparison with the latitude, I suspected that these islands had been partly stocked by ice-borne seeds during the Glacial epoch.
Even as long ago as 1747, such facts led Gmelin to conclude that the same species must have been independently created at many distinct points; and we might have remained in this same belief, had not Agassiz and others called vivid attention to the Glacial period, which, as we shall immediately see, affords a simple explanation of these facts.
But we shall follow the changes more readily, by supposing a new glacial period slowly to come on, and then pass away, as formerly occurred.
These views, grounded as they are on the perfectly well-ascertained occurrence of a former Glacial period, seem to me to explain in so satisfactory a manner the present distribution of the Alpine and Arctic productions of Europe and America, that when in other regions we find the same species on distant mountain-summits, we may almost conclude, without other evidence, that a colder climate formerly permitted their migration across the intervening lowlands, now become too warm for their existence.
But with the Alpine productions, left isolated from the moment of the returning warmth, first at the bases and ultimately on the summits of the mountains, the case will have been somewhat different; for it is not likely that all the same arctic species will have been left on mountain ranges far distant from each other, and have survived there ever since; they will also, in all probability, have become mingled with ancient Alpine species, which must have existed on the mountains before the commencement of the Glacial epoch, and which during the coldest period will have been temporarily driven down to the plains; they will, also, have been subsequently exposed to somewhat different climatical influences.
But it is also necessary to assume that many sub-arctic and some few temperate forms were the same round the world, for some of the species which now exist on the lower mountain slopes and on the plains of North America and Europe are the same; and it may be asked how I account for this degree of uniformity of the sub-arctic and temperate forms round the world, at the commencement of the real Glacial period.
During the Glacial period, when the inhabitants of the Old and New Worlds lived further southwards than they do at present, they must have been still more completely separated from each other by wider spaces of ocean; so that it may well be asked how the same species could then or previously have entered the two continents.
The explanation, I believe, lies in the nature of the climate before the commencement of the Glacial period.
And this continuity of the circumpolar land, with the consequent freedom under a more favourable climate for intermigration, will account for the supposed uniformity of the sub-arctic and temperate productions of the Old and New Worlds, at a period anterior to the Glacial epoch.
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.
Clarke, it appears also that there are traces of former glacial action on the mountains of the south-eastern corner of Australia.
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.
But now, Mr. Croll, in a series of admirable memoirs, has attempted to show that a glacial condition of climate is the result of various physical causes, brought into operation by an increase in the eccentricity of the earth's orbit.
Mr. Croll believes that the last great glacial period occurred about 240,000 years ago, and endured, with slight alterations of climate, for about 160,000 years.
With respect to more ancient glacial periods, several geologists are convinced, from direct evidence, that such occurred during the miocene and eocene formations, not to mention still more ancient formations.
So conversely it will be with the northern hemisphere, while the southern passes through a glacial period.
The Glacial period, as measured by years, must have been very long; and when we remember over what vast spaces some naturalised plants and animals have spread within a few centuries, this period will have been ample for any amount of migration.
On the decline of the Glacial period, as both hemispheres gradually recovered their former temperature, the northern temperate forms living on the lowlands under the equator, would have been driven to their former homes or have been destroyed, being replaced by the equatorial forms returning from the south.
We must, also, bear in mind the occurrence in both hemispheres of former Glacial periods; for these will account, in accordance with the same principles, for the many quite distinct species inhabiting the same widely separated areas, and belonging to genera not now found in the intermediate torrid zones.
And thus, when the two sets became commingled in the equatorial regions, during the alternations of the Glacial periods, the northern forms were the more powerful and were able to hold their places on the mountains, and afterwards migrate southward with the southern forms; but not so the southern in regard to the northern forms.
Before the last great Glacial period, no doubt the intertropical mountains were stocked with endemic Alpine forms; but these have almost everywhere yielded to the more dominant forms generated in the larger areas and more efficient workshops of the north.
When, during the height of the Glacial period, the ocean-currents were widely different to what they now are, some of the inhabitants of the temperate seas might have reached the equator; of these a few would perhaps at once be able to migrate southwards, by keeping to the cooler currents, while others might remain and survive in the colder depths until the southern hemisphere was in its turn subjected to a glacial climate and permitted their further progress; in nearly the same manner as, according to Forbes, isolated spaces inhabited by Arctic productions exist to the present day in the deeper parts of the northern temperate seas.
Some of these species are so distinct, that we cannot suppose that there has been time since the commencement of the last Glacial period for their migration and subsequent modification to the necessary degree.
The facts seem to indicate that distinct species belonging to the same genera have migrated in radiating lines from a common centre; and I am inclined to look in the southern, as in the northern hemisphere, to a former and warmer period, before the commencement of the last Glacial period, when the Antarctic lands, now covered with ice, supported a highly peculiar and isolated flora.
It may be suspected that before this flora was exterminated during the last Glacial epoch, a few forms had been already widely dispersed to various points of the southern hemisphere by occasional means of transport, and by the aid, as halting-places, of now sunken islands.
And we have now seen that Mr. Croll's conclusion that successive Glacial periods in the one hemisphere coincide with warmer periods in the opposite hemisphere, together with the admission of the slow modification of species, explains a multitude of facts in the distribution of the same and of the allied forms of life in all parts of the globe.
But this difficulty partially disappears on the view that New Zealand, South America, and the other southern lands, have been stocked in part from a nearly intermediate though distant point, namely, from the antarctic islands, when they were clothed with vegetation, during a warmer tertiary period, before the commencement of the last Glacial period.
For Alpine species, excepting in as far as the same species have become widely spread during the Glacial epoch, are related to those of the surrounding lowlands; thus we have in South America, Alpine humming-birds, Alpine rodents, Alpine plants, etc., all strictly belonging to American forms; and it is obvious that a mountain, as it became slowly upheaved, would be colonised from the surrounding lowlands.
As an example, I have attempted to show how potent has been the influence of the Glacial period on the distribution of the same and of allied species throughout the world.
On this same principle of former migration, combined in most cases with modification, we can understand, by the aid of the Glacial period, the identity of some few plants, and the close alliance of many others, on the most distant mountains, and in the northern and southern temperate zones; and likewise the close alliance of some of the inhabitants of the sea in the northern and southern temperate latitudes, though separated by the whole intertropical ocean.
It is believed that glacial periods have occurred repeatedly during the geological history of the earth, but the term is generally applied to the close of the Tertiary epoch, when nearly the whole of Europe was subjected to an arctic climate.
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