Mount Everest - the world's highest mountain - may have been born as Asia was squeezed like a tube of toothpaste after India smashed into the rest of the continent, scientists say.
The unexpectedly prolonged collision led to the formation of the Himalayas and then caused them to grow ever taller, researchers said.
These mountains are home to the world's 100 highest mountain peaks, including the Everest, 'New Scientist' reported.
"The obvious big grand challenge problem of tectonics has always been the Himalayas, and how India hits Eurasia," said Louis Moresi of the University of Melbourne.
Moresi and colleagues have developed a computer model that explains what happens when continents collide. The model shows that when one continent bears thick or buoyant crust that blocks subduction, the other continent gets squeezed like a tube of toothpaste and folds around the blockage, creating a complex array of geophysical features.
It suggests that as India shoves into Eurasia, China and South-East Asia initially resist being pushed underneath, and then get pushed aside instead.
The process unclogs the subduction zone and allows India to keep pushing into Eurasia, raising up Mount Everest and its towering siblings, the report said.
"Without this process, India almost certainly would have stopped moving northwards," said David Foster of the University of Florida in Gainesville.