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Flora of Ice Age Europe

Flora of Ice Age Europe


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I'm trying to get a very in-depth idea of the ecosystem of Pleistocene Europe, somewhere around 40,000 years ago, and I can't seem to find what types of foliage (other than the obvious grasses and lichens) grew in that place and time. I'm particularly interested in the species of tree that were present; can anyone help?


Mystery invaders conquered Europe at the end of last ice age

Europe went through a major population upheaval about 14,500 years ago, at the end of the last ice age, according to DNA from the bones of hunter-gatherers.

Ancient DNA studies published in the last five years have transformed what we know about the early peopling of Europe. The picture they paint is one in which successive waves of immigration wash over the continent, bringing in new people, new genes and new technologies.

These studies helped confirm that Europe’s early hunter-gatherers – who arrived about 40,000 years ago – were largely replaced by farmers arriving from the Middle East about 8000 years ago. These farmers then saw an influx of pastoralists from the Eurasian steppe about 4500 years ago, meaning modern Europe was shaped by three major population turnover events.

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How Cold Was the Last Ice Age? Researchers Have Now Mapped the Temperature Differences Across the Globe

This global map shows the temperature differences compared to preindustrial times. Dark blue translates to cooler temperatures. The ice sheets of the past are superimposed on the continents. Credit: Jessica Tierney

Scientists’ ice age ‘hindcast’ may shed light on future climate.

A University of Arizona-led team has nailed down the temperature of the last ice age – the Last Glacial Maximum of 20,000 years ago – to about 46 degrees Fahrenheit.

Their findings allow climate scientists to better understand the relationship between today’s rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide – a major greenhouse gas – and average global temperature.

Jessica Tierney. Credit: Jessica Tierney

The Last Glacial Maximum, or LGM, was a frigid period when huge glaciers covered about half of North America, Europe and South America and many parts of Asia, while flora and fauna that were adapted to the cold thrived.

“We have a lot of data about this time period because it has been studied for so long,” said Jessica Tierney, associate professor in the University of Arizona Department of Geosciences. “But one question science has long wanted answers to is simple: How cold was the ice age?”

Tracking Temperature

Tierney is lead author of a paper published today (August 26, 2020) in Nature that found that the average global temperature of the ice age was 6 degrees Celsius (11 F) cooler than today. For context, the average global temperature of the 20th century was 14 C (57 F).

“In your own personal experience that might not sound like a big difference, but, in fact, it’s a huge change,” Tierney said.

She and her team also created maps to illustrate how temperature differences varied in specific regions across the globe.

“In North America and Europe, the most northern parts were covered in ice and were extremely cold. Even here in Arizona, there was big cooling,” Tierney said. “But the biggest cooling was in high latitudes, such as the Arctic, where it was about 14 C (25 F) colder than today.”

Their findings fit with scientific understanding of how Earth’s poles react to temperature changes.

“Climate models predict that the high latitudes will get warmer faster than low latitudes,” Tierney said. “When you look at future projections, it gets really warm over the Arctic. That’s referred to as polar amplification. Similarly, during the LGM, we find the reverse pattern. Higher latitudes are just more sensitive to climate change and will remain so going forward.”

Counting Carbon

Knowing the temperature of the ice age matters because it is used to calculate climate sensitivity, meaning how much the global temperature shifts in response to atmospheric carbon.

Tierney and her team determined that for every doubling of atmospheric carbon, global temperature should increase by 3.4 C (6.1 F), which is in the middle of the range predicted by the latest generation of climate models (1.8 to 5.6 C).

Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels during the ice age were about 180 parts per million, which is very low. Before the Industrial Revolution, levels rose to about 280 parts per million, and today they’ve reached 415 parts per million.

“The Paris Agreement wanted to keep global warming to no larger than 2.7 F (1.5 C) over pre-industrial levels, but with carbon dioxide levels increasing the way they are, it would be extremely difficult to avoid more than 3.6 F (2 C) of warming,” Tierney said. “We already have about 2 F (1.1 C) under our belt, but the less warm we get the better, because the Earth system really does respond to changes in carbon dioxide.”

Making a Model

Since there were no thermometers in the ice age, Tierney and her team developed models to translate data collected from ocean plankton fossils into sea-surface temperatures. They then combined the fossil data with climate model simulations of the LGM using a technique called data assimilation, which is used in weather forecasting.

“What happens in a weather office is they measure the temperature, pressure, humidity and use these measurements to update a forecasting model and predict the weather,” Tierney said. “Here, we use the Boulder, Colorado-based National Center for Atmospheric Research climate model to produce a hindcast of the LGM, and then we update this hindcast with the actual data to predict what the climate was like.”

In the future, Tierney and her team plan to use the same technique to recreate warm periods in Earth’s past.

“If we can reconstruct past warm climates,” she said, “then we can start to answer important questions about how the Earth reacts to really high carbon dioxide levels, and improve our understanding of what future climate change might hold.”

Reference: “Glacial cooling and climate sensitivity revisited” by Jessica E. Tierney, Jiang Zhu, Jonathan King, Steven B. Malevich, Gregory J. Hakim and Christopher J. Poulsen, 26 August 2020, Nature.
DOI: 10.1038/s41586-020-2617-x

The research was supported by the Heisings-Simons Foundation and the National Science Foundation.

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6 Comments on "How Cold Was the Last Ice Age? Researchers Have Now Mapped the Temperature Differences Across the Globe"

Your article has conversion errors. 6 degrees Celsius is 42.8 degrees Fahrenheit not 11 degrees. 3.4 degrees Celsius is 38.12 degrees Fahrenheit not 6.1 degrees. I would think for a supposed science publication this would have been caught immediately. 0 degrees Celsius = 32 degrees Fahrenheit, pretty easy to do a check on those numbers.

While yes, 0ºC is 32ºF, the temperature difference from 0ºC (32ºF) to 1ºC (33.8ºF) is 1º in C (1.8º in F) The numbers given are incremental equivalence not literal equivalence. For instance, as I described, the difference in a change of temperature in 1ºC is 1.8ºF or the other way around a change of temperature in 1º of F is about .556º of C. The math in the article is correct.

My mistake, I misread that. I apologize. It can be confusing mixing the two scales in this sort of comparison though.

Pls re-read the passage. The 6 degrees is a delta from present temperatures. 6C is, in fact, 11F. It sez: “the average global temperature of the ice age was 6 degrees Celsius (11 F) cooler than today. For context, the average global”

What I am about to present will be considered as “you’ve go to be kidding me”. The view as presented in this article that the “Large Glacial Movement” was some 20,000 years ago, should be reconsidered. Why ? Because there is a timeline established in the Bible that assists in grasping when the arctic poles with its ice came into existence.

At Genesis 1, it lays out a graphic representation of time that allows us to understand how the earth was prepared for life over the course of six “creative” days, in which each “creative” day was several thousand years long. And when mankind was introduced some 6,000 years ago at the very end of the sixth “creative” day, the temperature of the earth was very comfortable throughout the earth, even what today is called “the poles”, for fossilized pollen and spores have been found in seabed sediment of the Antarctic Ocean, revealing that it once supported palms and near-tropical forests.(LiveScience, June 28, 2011)

And from a careful consideration of the account at Genesis 6:17, there was “a heavenly ocean” (Heb ham mab bul) that was above the earth (or body of water that is now our present oceans) that God (whose personal name is Jehovah, Ps 83:18) placed there for the benefit of life, keeping the earth’s temperature comfortably warm in all areas, for even in the coldest of places, such as Siberia, woolly mammoths have been found frozen with buttercups between their teeth, showing that it was at one time covered with green vegetation.

And with chronological dating in the Bible, it can be established that a global flood occurred in 2370 B.C.E. because the massive waters or “heavenly ocean” that surrounded the earth in the upper atmosphere, like a warm thermal blanket, were quickly condensed into rain, causing a massive change in temperature especially at the poles, so that what was once a temperate zone where animals of all types thrived now suddenly became a frozen “wasteland”.(Gen 7:6)

It is also well known that hot water freezes quicker than cold water, so that the once temperate zone of the earth rapidly changed into considerable temperature differences around the earth, allowing the coldness of space to take hold when the “floodgates of the heavens were opened”.(Gen 7:11) It is like suddenly taking off thick warm clothing so that our warm bodies would speedily begin to freeze.

I thought you were being serious at first, took me a minute to realize you’re just trolling with that nonsense. Nicely played.


Doggerland - The Europe That Was

A map showing Doggerland, a region of northwest Europe home to Mesolithic people before sea level rose to inundate this area and create the Europe we are familiar with today.

Geology, Geography, Human Geography, Physical Geography

Things aren’t always what they seem on the surface. Looking at the area between mainland Europe and the eastern coast of Great Britain, you probably wouldn’t guess it had been anything other than a great expanse of ocean water. But roughly 12,000 years ago, as the last major ice age was reaching its end, the area was very different. Instead of the North Sea, the area was a series of gently sloping hills, marshland, heavily wooded valleys, and swampy lagoons: Doggerland.

Mesolithic people populated Doggerland. Archaeologists and anthropologists say the Doggerlanders were hunter-gatherers who migrated with the seasons, fishing, hunting, and gathering food such as hazelnuts and berries.

Over time, the Doggerlanders were slowly flooded out of their seasonal hunting grounds. Water previously locked away in glaciers and ice sheets began to melt, drowning Doggerland. Around 6,000 years ago, the Mesolithic people were forced onto higher ground in what is today England and the Netherlands.

Evidence of Doggerlanders’ nomadic presence can be found embedded in the seafloor, where modern fishermen often find ancient bones and tools that date to about 9,000 years ago. These artifacts brought Doggerland’s submerged history to the attention of British and Dutch archaeologists and paleontologists.

Using sophisticated seismic survey data acquired mainly by oil companies drilling in the North Sea, the scientists have been able to reconstruct a digital model of nearly 46,620 square kilometers (18,000 square miles) of what Doggerland looked like before it was flooded.

Those studying the Doggerland area are finding that the climate change faced by Mesolithic people is analogous to our own. Mesolithic peoples were forced out of Doggerland by rising water that engulfed their low-lying settlements. Climate scientists say that a similar situation could affect the billions of people who live within 60 kilometers (37 miles) of a shoreline today, if polar ice caps continue to melt at an accelerated pace.

The story of the Mesolithic people and their home of Doggerland are cautionary tales for the consequences of a rapidly rising sea level. Glacial melt forced the Mesolithic people out of their homes and now Doggerland, like the fabled Atlantis, is just a sunken and mostly forgotten Stone Age culture, its only evidence being decayed artifacts and fossils of its people.

Using the map scale bar, what is the approximate distance you would have to travel to get from England to France over water today?

Using the scale bar, the approximate distance between England and France over water according to this map is 32 kilometers (20 miles). Answers may vary within a range of 24 kilometers (15 miles). The actual distance is 34 kilometers (21 miles).

According to the map key, areas shaded in dark green were not covered by the sea in 7000 BC. How many years ago is that?

7000 BC is 9,012 years ago in 2012 or 9,013 years ago in 2013.

How can we know what the landscape of Doggerland looked like thousands of years ago when it is covered by ocean today?

Scientists reconstruct the landscape using data collected by seismic surveyors working for oil companies in the North Sea.

There is a river flowing near the site labeled Goldcliff on the map. What is the present-day name for the large body of water this river would have flown into 16,000 years ago?

The river flowing from the Goldcliff site would have flown into the Atlantic Ocean.

Ancient Doggerland included parts of the coastline of what modern-day nations labeled on this map?

Ancient Doggerland included the parts of the coastline of modern-day France, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Ireland, and the United Kingdom.

  • When Doggerland was being flooded, sea level rise was as much as 1-2 meters (3-6 feet) a century.
  • The seafloor of the North Sea preserved many artifacts of Mesolithic people, including perfect sets of footprints left by the nomadic tribes, some containing up to 39 perfectly preserved prints.
  • Those studying Doggerland say many of the sites where they have found artifacts were located on steep ancient river banks, which the Dutch call De Stekels (the Spines).

person who studies artifacts and lifestyles of ancient cultures.

material remains of a culture, such as tools, clothing, or food.

gradual changes in all the interconnected weather elements on our planet.

edge of land along the sea or other large body of water.

(16,000-6500 BCE) landmass connecting Great Britain to mainland Europe, drowned by the southern North Sea following the last ice age.

person who gets food by using a combination of hunting, fishing, and foraging.

long period of cold climate where glaciers cover large parts of the Earth. The last ice age peaked about 20,000 years ago. Also called glacial age.

(12,000-3000 BCE) Stone Age time period between the Paleolithic and Neolithic. Also called the Middle Stone Age and Epipaleolithic.

image or impression of an object used to represent the object or system.

having to do with a way of life lacking permanent settlement.

base level for measuring elevations. Sea level is determined by measurements taken over a 19-year cycle.

having to do with earthquakes.

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Demography is the study of a population, the total number of people or organisms in a given area. Understanding how population characteristics such as size, spatial distribution, age structure, or the birth and death rates change over time can help scientists or governments make decisions. For example, knowing how lion populations have increased or decreased over a period of time can help conservationists understand if their protection efforts are effective while knowing how many seniors or children live in a particular neighborhood can shape the type of activities scheduled at the local recreation center. Select from these resources to teach your students about population characteristics.

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Contents

Louis Agassiz was born in the village of Môtier (now part of Haut-Vully) in the Swiss Canton of Fribourg. [2] He was the son of a pastor, [3] Louis Rudolphe and his wife, Rose Mayor.

His father was a Protestant clergyman, as had been his progenitors for six generations, and his mother was the daughter of a physician and an intellectual in her own right, who had assisted her husband in the education of her boys. [2] He was educated at home [2] until he spent four years at secondary school in Bienne, which he entered in 1818 and completed his elementary studies in Lausanne. Agassiz studied at the Universities of Zürich, Heidelberg and Munich. At the lastbone, he extended his knowledge of natural history, especially of botany. In 1829, he received the degree of doctor of philosophy at Erlangen and, in 1830, that of doctor of medicine at Munich. [4] Moving to Paris, he came under the tutelage of Alexander von Humboldt and later received his financial benevolence. [5] Humboldt and Georges Cuvier launched him on his careers of respectively geology and zoology. Ichthyology soon became a focus of Agassiz's life's work. [6]

In 1819 to 1820, the German biologists Johann Baptist von Spix and Carl Friedrich Philipp von Martius undertook an expedition to Brazil. They returned home to Europe with many natural objects, including an important collection of the freshwater fish of Brazil, especially of the Amazon River. Spix, who died in 1826, did not live long enough to work out the history of those fish, and Martius selected Agassiz for this project.

Agassiz threw himself into the work with an enthusiasm that would go on to characterize the rest of his life's work. The task of describing the Brazilian fish was completed and published in 1829. It was followed by research into the history of fish found in Lake Neuchâtel. Enlarging his plans, he in 1830 issued a prospectus of a History of the Freshwater Fish of Central Europe. In 1839, however, the first part of the publication appeared, and it was completed in 1842. [4]

In November 1832, Agassiz was appointed professor of natural history at the University of Neuchâtel, at a salary of about US$400 and declined brilliant offers in Paris because of the leisure for private study that that position afforded him. [7] The fossil fish in the rock of the surrounding region, the slates of Glarus and the limestones of Monte Bolca, soon attracted his attention. At the time, very little had been accomplished in their scientific study. Agassiz as early as 1829, planned the publication of a work. More than any other, it would lay the foundation of his worldwide fame. Five volumes of his Recherches sur les poissons fossiles (Research on Fossil Fish) were published from 1833 to 1843. They were magnificently illustrated, chiefly by Joseph Dinkel. [8] In gathering materials for that work, Agassiz visited the principal museums in Europe. Meeting Cuvier in Paris, he received much encouragement and assistance from him. [4] They had known him for seven years.

In 1833 he married Cecile Braun, the sister of his friend Alexander Braun and established his household at Neuchâtel. Trained to scientific drawing by her brothers, his wife was of the greatest assistance to Agassiz, with some of the most beautiful plates in fossil and freshwater fishes being drawn by her. [7]

Agassiz found that his palaeontological analyses required a new ichthyological classification. The fossils that he examined rarely showed any traces of the soft tissues of fish but instead, consisted chiefly of the teeth, scales, and fins, with the bones being perfectly preserved in comparatively-few instances. He therefore adopted a classification that divided fish into four groups (ganoids, placoids, cycloids, and ctenoids), based on the nature of the scales and other dermal appendages. That did much to improve fish taxonomy, but Agassiz's classification has since been superseded. [4]

With Louis de Coulon, both father and son, he founded the Societé des Sciences Naturelles, of which he was the first secretary and in conjunction with the Coulons also arranged a provisional museum of natural history in the orphan's home. [7] Agassiz needed financial support to continue his work. The British Association and the Earl of Ellesmere, then Lord Francis Egerton, stepped in to help. The 1290 original drawings made for the work were purchased by the Earl and presented by him to the Geological Society of London. In 1836, the Wollaston Medal was awarded to Agassiz by the council of that society for his work on fossil ichthyology. In 1838, he was elected a foreign member of the Royal Society. Meanwhile, invertebrate animals engaged his attention. In 1837, he issued the "Prodrome" of a monograph on the recent and fossil Echinodermata, the first part of which appeared in 1838 in 1839–1840, he published two quarto volumes on the fossil echinoderms of Switzerland and in 1840–1845, he issued his Études critiques sur les mollusques fossiles (Critical Studies on Fossil Mollusks). [4]

Before Agassiz's first visit to England in 1834, Hugh Miller and other geologists had brought to light the remarkable fossil fish of the Old Red Sandstone of the northeast of Scotland. The strange forms of Pterichthys, Coccosteus, and other genera were then made known to geologists for the first time. They were of intense interest to Agassiz and formed the subject of a monograph by him published in 1844–1(45: Monographie des poissons fossiles du Vieux Grès Rouge, ou Système Dévonien (Old Red Sandstone) des Îles Britanniques et de Russie (Monograph on Fossil Fish of the Old Red Sandstone, or Devonian System of the British Isles and of Russia). [4] In the early stages of his career in Neuchatel, Agassiz also made a name for himself as a man who could run a scientific department well. Under his care, the University of Neuchâtel soon became a leading institution for scientific inquiry. [ citation needed ]

In 1842 to 1846, Agassiz issued his Nomenclator Zoologicus, a classification list with references of all names used in zoological genera and groups.

He was elected as a member of the American Philosophical Society in 1843. [9]

The vacation of 1836 was spent by Agassiz and his wife in the little village of Bex, where he met Jean de Charpentier and Ignaz Venetz. Their recently-announced glacial theories had startled the scientific world, and Agassiz returned to Neuchâtel as an enthusiastic convert. [10] In 1837, Agassiz proposed that the Earth had been subjected to a past ice age. [11] He presented the theory to the Helvetic Society that ancient glaciers flowed outward from the Alps, and even larger glaciers had covered the plains and mountains of Europe, Asia, and North America and smothered the entire Northern Hemisphere in a prolonged ice age. In the same year, he was elected a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. Before that proposal, Goethe, de Saussure, Ignaz Venetz, Jean de Charpentier, Karl Friedrich Schimper, and others had studied the glaciers of the Alps, and Goethe, [12] Charpentier, and Schimper [11] had even concluded that the erratic blocks of alpine rocks scattered over the slopes and summits of the Jura Mountains had been moved there by glaciers. Those ideas attracted the attention of Agassiz, and he discussed them with Charpentier and Schimper, whom he accompanied on successive trips to the Alps. Agassiz even had a hut constructed upon one of the Aar Glaciers and for a time made it his home to investigate the structure and movements of the ice. [4]

Agassiz visited England, and with William Buckland, the only English naturalist who shared his ideas, made a tour of the British Isles in search of glacial phenomena, and became satisfied that his theory of an ice age was correct. [10] In 1840, Agassiz published a two-volume work, Études sur les glaciers ("Studies on Glaciers"). [13] In it, he discussed the movements of the glaciers, their moraines, and their influence in grooving and rounding the rocks and in producing the striations and roches moutonnées seen in Alpine-style landscapes. He accepted Charpentier and Schimper's idea that some of the alpine glaciers had extended across the wide plains and valleys of the Aar and Rhône, but he went further by concluding that in the recent past, Switzerland had been covered with one vast sheet of ice originating in the higher Alps and extending over the valley of northwestern Switzerland to the southern slopes of the Jura. The publication of the work gave fresh impetus to the study of glacial phenomena in all parts of the world. [14]

Familiar then with recent glaciation, Agassiz and the English geologist William Buckland visited the mountains of Scotland in 1840. There, they found clear evidence in different locations of glacial action. The discovery was announced to the Geological Society of London in successive communications. The mountainous districts of England, Wales, and Ireland were understood to have been centres for the dispersion of glacial debris. Agassiz remarked "that great sheets of ice, resembling those now existing in Greenland, once covered all the countries in which unstratified gravel (boulder drift) is found that this gravel was in general produced by the trituration of the sheets of ice upon the subjacent surface, etc." [15]

With the aid of a grant of money from the king of Prussia, Agassiz crossed the Atlantic in the autumn of 1846 to investigate the natural history and geology of North America and to deliver a course of lectures on "The Plan of Creation as shown in the Animal Kingdom" [16] by invitation from John Amory Lowell, at the Lowell Institute in Boston, Massachusetts. The financial offers that were presented to him in the United States induced him to settle there, where he remained to the end of his life. [15] He was elected a foreign honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1846. [17]

In 1846, still married to Cecilie, who remained with their three children in Switzerland, Agassiz met Elizabeth Cabot Cary at a dinner. The two developed a romantic attachment, and when his wife died in 1848, they made plans to marry, and the ceremony that took place on April 25, 1850 in Boston, Massachusetts at King's Chapel. Agassiz brought his children to live with them, and Elizabeth raised and developed close relationships with her step-children. She had no children of her own. [18]

Agassiz had a mostly cordial relationship with the Harvard botanist Asa Gray despite their disagreements. [19] Agassiz believed each human race had been separately created, but Gray, a supporter of Charles Darwin, believed in the shared evolutionary ancestry of all humans. [20] In addition, Agassiz was a member of the Scientific Lazzaroni, a group of mostly physical scientists who wanted American academia to mimic the more autocratic academic structures of European universities, but Gray was a staunch opponent of that group.

Agassiz's engagement for the Lowell Institute lectures precipitated the establishment in 1847 of the Lawrence Scientific School at Harvard University, with Agassiz as its head. [21] Harvard appointed him professor of zoology and geology, and he founded the Museum of Comparative Zoology there in 1859 and served as its first director until his death in 1873. During his tenure at Harvard, Agassiz studied the effect of the last ice age in North America. [ citation needed ] In August 1857, Agassiz was offered the chair of palaeontology in the Museum of Natural History, Paris, which he refused. He was later decorated with the Cross of the Legion of Honor. [22]

Agassiz continued his lectures for the Lowell Institute. In succeeding years, he gave lectures on "Ichthyology" (1847–1848), "Comparative Embryology" (1848–1849), "Functions of Life in Lower Animals" (1850–1851), "Natural History" (1853–1854), "Methods of Study in Natural History" (1861–1862), "Glaciers and the Ice Period" (1864–1865), "Brazil" (1866–1867), and "Deep Sea Dredging" (1869–1970). [23] In 1850, he married an American college teacher, Elizabeth Cabot Cary, who later wrote introductory books about natural history and a lengthy biography of her husband after he had died. [24]

Agassiz served as a nonresident lecturer at Cornell University while he was also on faculty at Harvard. [25] In 1852, he accepted a medical professorship of comparative anatomy at Charlestown, Massachusetts, but he resigned in two years. [15] From then on, Agassiz's scientific studies dropped off, but he became one of the best-known scientists in the world. By 1857, Agassiz was so well-loved that his friend Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote "The Fiftieth Birthday of Agassiz" in his honor and read it at a dinner given for Agassiz by the Saturday Club in Cambridge. [15] Agassiz's own writing continued with four (of a planned 10) volumes of Natural History of the United States, published from 1857 to 1862. He also published a catalog of papers in his field, Bibliographia Zoologiae et Geologiae, in four volumes between 1848 and 1854. [ citation needed ]

Stricken by ill health in the 1860s, Agassiz resolved to return to the field for relaxation and to resume his studies of Brazilian fish. In April 1865, he led a party to Brazil. After his return in August 1866, an account of the expedition, A Journey in Brazil, was published in 1868. In December 1871, he made a second eight-month excursion, known as the Hassler expedition under the command of Commander Philip Carrigan Johnson (the brother of Eastman Johnson) and visited South America on its southern Atlantic and Pacific Seaboards. The ship explored the Magellan Strait, which drew the praise of Charles Darwin. [ citation needed ]

His second wife, Elizabeth Cary Agassiz, the daughter of Thomas Graves Cary, of Boston, who was president of Radcliffe college in 1898, desired to share his studies and aided her husband in preparing his A Journey in Brazil. In connection with their son, Alexander Agassiz, she wrote Seaside Studies in Natural History and Marine Animals of Massachusetts. [22] Elizabeth wrote at the Strait that "the Hassler pursued her course, past a seemingly endless panorama of mountains and forests rising into the pale regions of snow and ice, where lay glaciers in which every rift and crevasse, as well as the many cascades flowing down to join the waters beneath, could be counted as she steamed by them. These were weeks of exquisite delight to Agassiz. The vessel often skirted the shore so closely that its geology could be studied from the deck." [ citation needed ]

From his first marriage to Cecilie Bruan, Agassiz had two daughters and a son, Alexander. [26] In 1863, Agassiz's daughter Ida married Henry Lee Higginson, who later founded the Boston Symphony Orchestra and was a benefactor to Harvard and other schools. On November 30, 1860, Agassiz's daughter Pauline was married to Quincy Adams Shaw (1825–1908), a wealthy Boston merchant and later a benefactor to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. [27] Pauline Agassiz Shaw later became a prominent educator, suffragist, and philanthropist. [28]

In the last years of his life, Agassiz worked to establish a permanent school in which zoological science could be pursued amid the living subjects of its study. In 1873, the private philanthropist John Anderson gave Agassiz the island of Penikese, in Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts (south of New Bedford), and presented him with $50,000 to endow it permanently as a practical school of natural science that would be especially devoted to the study of marine zoology. [15] The school collapsed soon after Agassiz's death but is considered to be a precursor of the nearby Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory. [29]

Agassiz had a profound influence on the American branches of his two fields and taught many future scientists who would go on to prominence, including Alpheus Hyatt, David Starr Jordan, Joel Asaph Allen, Joseph Le Conte, Ernest Ingersoll, William James, Charles Sanders Peirce, Nathaniel Shaler, Samuel Hubbard Scudder, Alpheus Packard, and his son Alexander Emanuel Agassiz. He had a profound impact on the paleontologist Charles Doolittle Walcott and the natural scientist Edward S. Morse. Agassiz had a reputation for being a demanding teacher. He would allegedly "lock a student up in a room full of turtle-shells, or lobster-shells, or oyster-shells, without a book or a word to help him, and not let him out till he had discovered all the truths which the objects contained." [30] Two of Agassiz's most prominent students detailed their personal experiences under his tutelage: Scudder, in a short magazine article for Every Saturday, [31] and Shaler, in his Autobiography. [32] Those and other recollections were collected and published by Lane Cooper in 1917, [33] which Ezra Pound would draw on for his anecdote of Agassiz and the sunfish. [34]

In the early 1840s, Agassiz named two fossil fish species after Mary Anning (Acrodus anningiae and Belenostomus anningiae) and another after her friend, Elizabeth Philpot. Anning was a paleontologist known around the world for important finds, but because of her gender, she was often not formally recognized for her work. Agassiz was grateful for the help that the women gave him in examining fossil fish specimens during his visit to Lyme Regis in 1834. [35]

Agassiz died in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1873 and was buried on the Bellwort Path at Mount Auburn Cemetery, [36] joined later by his wife. His monument is a boulder from a glacial moraine of the Aar near the site of the old Hôtel des Neuchâtelois, not far from the spot where his hut once stood. His grave is sheltered by pine trees from his old home in Switzerland. [15]

The Cambridge elementary school north of Harvard University was named in his honor, and the surrounding neighborhood became known as "Agassiz" as a result. The school's name was changed to the Maria L. Baldwin School on May 21, 2002 because of concerns about Agassiz's involvement in scientific racism and to honor Maria Louise Baldwin, the African-American principal of the school, who served from 1889 to 1922. [37] [38] The neighborhood, however, continues to be known as Agassiz. [39] An elementary school, the Agassiz Elementary School in Minneapolis, Minnesota, existed from 1922 to 1981. [40]

Geological tributes Edit

An ancient glacial lake that formed in the Great Lakes region of North America, Lake Agassiz, is named after him, as are Mount Agassiz in California's Palisades, Mount Agassiz, in the Uinta Mountains of Utah, Agassiz Peak in Arizona, Agassiz Rock in Massachusetts and in his native Switzerland, the Agassizhorn in the Bernese Alps. Agassiz Glacier (Montana) and Agassiz Creek in Glacier National Park and Agassiz Glacier (Alaska) in Saint Elias Mountains, Mount Agassiz in Bethlehem, New Hampshire in the White Mountains also bear his name. A crater on Mars Crater Agassiz [41] and a promontorium on the moon are also named in his honor. A headland situated in Palmer Land, Antarctica, is named in his honor, Cape Agassiz. A main-belt asteroid, 2267 Agassiz, is also named in association with him.

Biological tributes Edit

Several animal species are named in honor of him, including Agassiz's dwarf cichlid Apistogramma agassizii Steindachner, 1875 Agassiz's perchlet, also known as Agassiz's glass fish and the olive perchlet Ambassis agassizii Steindachner, 1866 The Spring Cavefish Forbesichthys agassizii (Putnam, 1872) the catfish Corydoras agassizii Steindachner, 1876 the Rio Skate Rioraja agassizii (J. P. Müller & Henle, 1841) the Snailfish Liparis agassizii Putnam, 1874 a sea snail, Borsonella agassizii (Dall, 1908) a species of crab Eucratodes agassizii A. Milne Edwards, 1880 Isocapnia agassizi Ricker, 1943 (a stonefly) Publius agassizi (Kaup, 1871) (a passalid beetle) Xylocrius agassizi (LeConte, 1861) (a longhorn beetle) Exoprosopa agassizii Loew, 1869 (a bee fly) Chelonia agassizii Bocourt, 1868 (Galápagos green turtle) [42] Philodryas agassizii (Jan, 1863) (a South American snake) [42] and the most well-known, Gopherus agassizii (Cooper, 1863) (the desert tortoise). [42] In 2020, a new genus of pycnodont fish (Actinopterygii, Pycnodontiformes) named Agassazilia erfoundina (Cooper and Martill, 2020) from the Moroccan Kem Kem Group was named in honor of Agassiz, who first identified the group in the 1830s.

Tribute awards Edit

In 2005, the European Geosciences Union Division on Cryospheric Sciences established the Louis Agassiz Medal, awarded to individuals in recognition of their outstanding scientific contribution to the study of the cryosphere on Earth or elsewhere in the solar system. [43]

Agassiz took part in a monthly gathering called the Saturday Club at the Parker House, a meeting of Boston writers and intellectuals. He was therefore mentioned in a stanza of the Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. poem "At the Saturday Club:"

There, at the table's further end I see
In his old place our Poet's vis-à-vis,
The great PROFESSOR, strong, broad-shouldered, square,
In life's rich noontide, joyous, debonair
.

How will her realm be darkened, losing thee,
Her darling, whom we call our AGASSIZ!

Daguerreotypes of Renty and Delia Taylor Edit

In 1850, Agassiz commissioned daguerreotypes, which were described as "haunting and voyeuristic" of the enslaved Renty Taylor and Taylor's daughter, Delia, to further his arguments about black inferiority. [44] They are the earliest known photographs of slaves. [45] [46] [44] [47] Agassiz left the images to Harvard, and they remained in the Peabody Museum's attic until 1976, when they were rediscovered by Ellie Reichlin, a former staff member. [48] [49] The 15 daguerrotypes were in a case with the embossing "J. T. Zealy, Photographer, Columbia," with several handwritten labels, which helped in later identification. [49] Reichlin spent months doing research to try to identify the people in the photos, but Harvard University did not make efforts to contact the families and licensed the photos for use. [49] [50]

In 2011, Tamara Lanier wrote a letter to the president of Harvard that identified herself as a direct descendant of the Taylors and asked for the return of the photos. [50] [51]

In 2019, Taylor's descendants sued Harvard for the return of the images and unspecified damages. [52] The lawsuit was supported by 43 living descendants of Agassiz, who wrote in a letter of support, "For Harvard to give the daguerreotypes to Ms. Lanier and her family would begin to make amends for its use of the photos as exhibits for the white supremacist theory Agassiz espoused." Everyone must evaluate fully "his role in promoting a pseudoscientific justification for white supremacy." [45]

After Agassiz came to the United States, he wrote prolifically on polygenism, which holds that animals, plants, and humans were all created in "special provinces" with distinct populations of species created in and for each province, and that these populations were endowed with different attributes. [54] Agassiz denied that migration and adaptation could account for the geographical patterns. For example, Agassiz questioned how plants or animals could migrate through regions they were not equipped to handle. [55] [ failed verification ] According to Agassiz, the conditions in which particular creatures live "are the conditions necessary to their maintenance, and what among organized beings is essential to their temporal existence must be at least one of the conditions under which they were created". [55] [ failed verification ] Agassiz was opposed to monogenism and evolution, believing that the theory of evolution reduced the wisdom of God to an impersonal materialism. [55] [ failed verification ]

Agassiz was influenced by philosophical idealism and the scientific work of Georges Cuvier. Agassiz believed that one species of humans exists, but many different creations of races occurred. [55] [ failed verification ] These ideas have been used in support of scientific racism. According to Agassiz, genera and species were ideas in the mind of God their existence in God's mind prior to their physical creation meant that God could create humans as one species, yet in several distinct and geographically separate acts of creation. Agassiz was in modern terms a creationist who believed nature had order because God created it directly. Agassiz viewed his career in science as a search for ideas in the mind of the creator expressed in creation. [ citation needed ]

Agassiz, like many other polygenists, believed the Book of Genesis recounted the origin of the white race only and that the animals and plants in the Bible refer only to those species proximate and familiar to Adam and Eve. Agassiz believed that the writers of the Bible knew only of regional events for example that Noah's flood was a local event known only to the regions near those populated by ancient Hebrews. [55] [ failed verification ]

Stephen Jay Gould asserted that Agassiz's observations sprang from racist bias, in particular from his revulsion on first encountering African-Americans in the United States. [56] In contrast, others have asserted that, despite favoring polygenism, Agassiz rejected racism and believed in a spiritualized human unity. [55] [ failed verification ] Agassiz believed God made all men equal, and that intellectualism and morality, as developed in civilization, make men equal before God. [55] [ failed verification ] Agassiz never supported slavery and claimed his views on polygenism had nothing to do with politics [57] however his views on polygenism emboldened proponents of slavery. [45]

Accusations of racism against Agassiz have prompted the renaming of landmarks, schoolhouses, and other institutions (which abound in Massachusetts) that bear his name. [38] Opinions on these events are often mixed, given his extensive scientific legacy in other areas, and uncertainty about his actual racial beliefs. [58] In 2007, the Swiss government acknowledged his "racist thinking," but declined to rename the Agassizhorn summit. [59] In 2017, the Swiss Alpine Club declined to revoke Agassiz's status as a member of honor, which he received in 1865 for his scientific work, because the club considered this status to have lapsed on Agassiz's death. [60] In 2020, the Stanford Department of Psychology requested to remove a statue of Louis Agassiz from the front façade of its building. [61] In 2021, Chicago Public Schools announced they will remove Agassiz's name from an elementary school and rename it for Harriet Tubman. [62]

  • Recherches sur les poissons fossiles (1833–1843)
  • History of the Freshwater Fishes of Central Europe (1839–1842)
  • Études sur les glaciers (1840)
  • Études critiques sur les mollusques fossiles (1840–1845)
  • Nomenclator Zoologicus (1842–1846)
  • Monographie des poissons fossiles du Vieux Gres Rouge, ou Systeme Devonien (Old Red Sandstone) des Iles Britanniques et de Russie (1844–1845)
  • Bibliographia Zoologiae et Geologiae (1848)
  • (with A. A. Gould) Principles of Zoology for the use of Schools and Colleges (Boston, 1848)
  • Lake Superior: Its Physical Character, Vegetation and Animals, compared with those of other and similar regions (Boston: Gould, Kendall and Lincoln, 1850)
  • Contributions to the Natural History of the United States of America (Boston: Little, Brown, and Co., 1857–1862)
  • Geological Sketches (Boston: Ticknor & Fields, 1866)
  • A Journey in Brazil (1868)
  • De l'espèce et de la classification en zoologie [Essay on classification] (Trans. Felix Vogeli. Paris: Bailière, 1869)
  • Geological Sketches (Second Series) (Boston: J.R. Osgood, 1876) , by Louis Agassiz (1962, Cambridge)
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  43. Erlandson, David A. et al. (1993). Doing Naturalistic Inquiry: A Guide to Methods. Sage Publications. pp. 1–4. ISBN978-0-8039-4938-6 . Originally published in
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  48. Cooper, Lane (1917). Louis Agassiz as a Teacher: Illustrative Extracts on his Method of Instruction. Ithaca: The Comstock Publishing Company.
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  72. "The World Is Watching: Woman Suing Harvard for Photos of Enslaved Ancestors Says History Is At Stake". Democracy Now!. March 29, 2019 . Retrieved March 29, 2019 .
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  98. Stevens, Heidi. "Column: Harriet Tubman will take the place of racist scientist's name on Lakeview's Agassiz Elementary School". chicagotribune.com . Retrieved March 22, 2021 .
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  • Irmscher, Christoph (2013). Louis Agassiz: Creator of American Science . Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN978-0-547-57767-8 .
  • Johnson, Rossiter, ed. (1906). "Agassiz, Jean Louis Rudolphe". The Biographical Dictionary of America. 1. Boston, Mass.: American Biographical Society. pp. 60–64 . Retrieved November 3, 2020 – via en.wikisource.org. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
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A collection of Louis Agassiz's professional and personal life is conserved in the State Archives of Neuchâtel.


How cold was the ice age? Researchers now know

Credit: Unsplash/CC0 Public Domain

A University of Arizona-led team has nailed down the temperature of the last ice age—the Last Glacial Maximum of 20,000 years ago—to about 46 degrees Fahrenheit (7.8 C).

Their findings allow climate scientists to better understand the relationship between today's rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide—a major greenhouse gas—and average global temperature.

The Last Glacial Maximum, or LGM, was a frigid period when huge glaciers covered about half of North America, Europe and South America and many parts of Asia, while flora and fauna that were adapted to the cold thrived.

"We have a lot of data about this time period because it has been studied for so long," said Jessica Tierney, associate professor in the UArizona Department of Geosciences. "But one question science has long wanted answers to is simple: How cold was the ice age?"

Tierney is lead author of a paper published today in Nature that found that the average global temperature of the ice age was 6 degrees Celsius (11 F) cooler than today. For context, the average global temperature of the 20th century was 14 C (57 F).

"In your own personal experience that might not sound like a big difference, but, in fact, it's a huge change," Tierney said.

She and her team also created maps to illustrate how temperature differences varied in specific regions across the globe.

"In North America and Europe, the most northern parts were covered in ice and were extremely cold. Even here in Arizona, there was big cooling," Tierney said. "But the biggest cooling was in high latitudes, such as the Arctic, where it was about 14 C (25 F) colder than today."

Their findings fit with scientific understanding of how Earth's poles react to temperature changes.

"Climate models predict that the high latitudes will get warmer faster than low latitudes," Tierney said. "When you look at future projections, it gets really warm over the Arctic. That's referred to as polar amplification. Similarly, during the LGM, we find the reverse pattern. Higher latitudes are just more sensitive to climate change and will remain so going forward."

Knowing the temperature of the ice age matters because it is used to calculate climate sensitivity, meaning how much the global temperature shifts in response to atmospheric carbon.

Tierney and her team determined that for every doubling of atmospheric carbon, global temperature should increase by 3.4 C (6.1 F), which is in the middle of the range predicted by the latest generation of climate models (1.8 to 5.6 C).

Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels during the ice age were about 180 parts per million, which is very low. Before the Industrial Revolution, levels rose to about 280 parts per million, and today they've reached 415 parts per million.

"The Paris Agreement wanted to keep global warming to no larger than 2.7 F (1.5 C) over pre-industrial levels, but with carbon dioxide levels increasing the way they are, it would be extremely difficult to avoid more than 3.6 F (2 C) of warming," Tierney said. "We already have about 2 F (1.1 C) under our belt, but the less warm we get the better, because the Earth system really does respond to changes in carbon dioxide."

Since there were no thermometers in the ice age, Tierney and her team developed models to translate data collected from ocean plankton fossils into sea-surface temperatures. They then combined the fossil data with climate model simulations of the LGM using a technique called data assimilation, which is used in weather forecasting.

"What happens in a weather office is they measure the temperature, pressure, humidity and use these measurements to update a forecasting model and predict the weather," Tierney said. "Here, we use the Boulder, Colorado-based National Center for Atmospheric Research climate model to produce a hindcast of the LGM, and then we update this hindcast with the actual data to predict what the climate was like."

In the future, Tierney and her team plan to use the same technique to recreate warm periods in Earth's past.

"If we can reconstruct past warm climates," she said, "then we can start to answer important questions about how the Earth reacts to really high carbon dioxide levels, and improve our understanding of what future climate change might hold."


Going the way of the dodo?

The Saiga was one of the most distinctive animals of the last Ice Age. It was widespread in the cold steppes of Eurasia.

The voluminous nose with large womb-shaped nasal bones contains strongly perfused mucous membranes. Thus in winter it can warm up the icy breath of the Eurasian steppes. In the summer, the moist-cold nasal mucous membranes cool the blood in the blood vessels before it enters the brain.

Today there are only two subspecies: the Saiga tatarica tatarica occurs in parts of Russia, Kazakhstan, Chi na, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Ukraine and the Saiga tatarica mongolica lives in Mongolia.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source: LVR-Landesmuseum Bonn, Germany
On loan: Zoologisches Forschungsmuseum Alexander Koenig, Bonn

From: New Scientist, 15 February 2003. This is an excellent magazine, and well worth subscribing to.

In a bid to save the rhino, conservationists suggested using saiga horn instead of rhino horn in traditional medicines. Their plan has backfired as hunters run amok

An antelope that just a decade ago crammed the steppes of central Asia is this spring on the verge of extinction, victim of an epidemic of poaching. Biologists say it is the most sudden and dramatic population crash of a large mammal ever seen.

In 1993, over a million saiga antelopes roamed the steppes of Russia and Kazakhstan. Today, fewer than 30,ooo remain, most of them females. So many males have been shot for their horns, which are exported to China to be used in traditional fever cures, that the antelope may not be able to recover unaided.

The slaughter is embarrassing for conservationists. In the early 199os, groups such as WWF actively encouraged the saiga hunt, promoting its horn as an alternative to the horn of the endangered rhino.

Saiga (Saiga tatarica) once dominated the open steppes from Ukraine to Mongolia. They have always been hunted for meat, horns and skins. However, even in Soviet times, hunters killed tens of thousands each year, without dramatically lowering the population.

But since the collapse of the Soviet Union, a lucrative market in the horns has opened up, with hunters using motorcycles and highpowered weapons to chase and kill their quarry. In China, saiga horns fetch around $100 a kilogram. Organised gangs illegally export the horn by train from Moscow to Beijing, or across the border from Kazakhstan.

"The plains used to be black with these antelopes, but now you can go out there and not see any at all," says Abigail Entwistle, a zoologist from Flora and Fauna International, a British-based charity. "This is the most sudden change in fortune for a large mammal species recorded in recent times." The closest comparison may be with the African elephant, which faced a similar poaching frenzy in the 1980s, causing its numbers to fall from a million to half a million in a decade. But the saiga's numbers, which started at a similar level, have fallen by 97 per cent.

The scale of the slaughter, and its almost total destruction of the male saiga, has overwhelmed the animals' famed fecundity "We don't know of any case in biology where the sex ratio has gone so wrong that fecundity has crashed in this way," says Eleanor Milner-Gulland of Imperial College, London, the leading expert in the West on the species.

Between 1993 and 1998, saiga numbers across central Asia almost halved, to around 600 000. Then, with most of the males gone, the population crash began in earnest, says Milner-Gulland. Numbers have halved each year since, until last year's census recorded just 30 000 individuals. There is, she says, no sign that the crash is due to disease or unusual weather.

One of the most critically endangered herds is in the huge Betpak-Dala region in central Kazakhstan, where in 1993 more than half a million saiga lived. By last year their numbers had crashed to just 4000 - a 99 per cent drop from which there may be no return. Aerial surveys last year by the Institute of Zoology in Kazakhstan revealed no adult or juvenile males, only females, says Milner-Gulland. And time is running out to bring extra males in, as saiga antelopes normally only live for three to four years.

Conservationists have struggled to keep up with the scale of the disaster, and did not put the saiga on the Red List of critically endangered species until October 2002. In the coming months they will launch an emergency appeal to rescue wild herds. "We think we have probably got just two years to save the species," says Entwistle. "The trouble is, most people have never heard of the animal, so it is hard to raise funds."

It is unlikely that hunters will drive the saiga to total extinction, as they did the dodo, quagga. and passenger pigeon. But without a dramatic reversal of its fortunes, it will soon be confined to zoos and a few small reserves.

A decade ago, the saiga antelope seemed so secure that conservationists fighting to save the rhino from poaching suggested using saiga horn in traditional Chinese medicines as a substitute for rhino horn.

Research commissioned by WWF at the Chinese University of Hong Kong in the late 1980s found it to be as effective as rhino horn in fighting fevers, and in 1991 WWF began a campaign in Hong Kong to publicise it as an alternative. The following year, the UN Environment Programme appointed WWF ecologist Esmond Bradley Martin as its "special envoy" to persuade pharmacists across Asia to adopt saiga horn (New Scientist, 9 March 1991, p 15, and 3 October 1992, p 10).

But the saiga had died out in China in the 1960s, and the resulting upsurge in demand opened the floodgates to unregulated imports. By 1993, says Milner-Gulland, "Hong Kong markets were piled high with saiga horn" from Kazakhstan and Russia. The slaughter had begun.

Bradley Martin is unapologetic. He told New Scientist: "I supported the use of saiga antelope horn as a substitute for rhino horn from the early 198os. In my opinion it was the correct policy at the time. But I stopped around 1995, when I read about the start of the sharp decline in saiga populations."

The ptarmigan becomes very hard to see in winter against a backdrop of snow. Even its feet are covered in feathers. Despite all these efforts at camouflage, the ptarmigan is a loud bird. Its noises resemble the sounds bullfrogs make.

Photo: Kalman, B. 'Arctic Animals'


When the female ptarmigan sits on her nest, its summer colouring blends with its nesting place. The ptarmigan is completely covered by warm feathers. Even its nostrils and feet are feathered to provide protection from the cold. The plumage on its feet also makes the ptarmigan's feet wider. Wide feet spread its weight more evenly so it can walk on soft snow without sinking. These feet feathers are, not surprisingly, called snowshoe feathers!

Photo: Kalman, B. 'Arctic Animals'


Golden Eagle, Aquila chrysaetos

The golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) is one of the best-known birds of prey in the Northern Hemisphere. It is the most widely distributed species of eagle. These birds are dark brown, with lighter golden-brown plumage on their napes. Golden eagles use their agility and speed combined with powerful feet and massive, sharp talons to snatch up a variety of prey, mainly hares, rabbits, marmots and other ground squirrels.

Golden eagles maintain home ranges or territories that may be as large as 200 km 2 (77 sq mi). They build large nests in cliffs and other high places to which they may return for several breeding years. Most breeding activities take place in the spring they are monogamous and may remain together for several years or possibly for life. Females lay up to four eggs, and then incubate them for six weeks. Typically, one or two young survive to fledge in about three months. These juvenile golden eagles usually attain full independence in the fall, after which they wander widely until establishing a territory for themselves in four to five years.

Once widespread across the northern parts of the northern hemisphere, it has disappeared from many areas which are now more heavily populated by humans. Despite being now uncommon in some of its former range, the species is still widespread, being present in sizeable stretches of Eurasia, North America, and parts of North Africa.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2018
Source: Reconstruction, Musée de l'Homme, Paris
Text: Wikipedia

Photo: Kalman, B. 'Arctic Animals'

Megaloceros, a giant deer, was just over 2m (6ft 6in) at the shoulder, about the size of a moose.

The antlers together span about 3.6m (12ft), or 1.8m (6ft) each. Some were even larger.

Cave paintings often seem to indicate a colour pattern for Megaloceros with a brownish back, a creamy chest and dark markings around the neck and shoulders. Although 'Irish Elk' is a common name used for Megaloceros, it is a deer, rather than an elk (most closely related to the Fallow deer). Also it is not just found in Ireland, but all across Europe. Thus, Megaloceros (meaning 'giant antler') is a better name for it.

The large numbers of skeletons from the peat bogs of Ireland have revealed that many male Megaloceros died from malnutrition and exhaustion during the winter. This is probably due to the rigours of the autumn rutting season, which many European deer have, during which males do not eat, and fight for the right to mate with a harem of females.

Text: Adapted from http://www.bbc.co.uk/beasts/evidence/prog6/page3_2.shtml

Photo: Kalman, B. 'Arctic Animals'

Still covered in thick fur and sporting a vicious-looking set of fangs, the 38-centimetre-long head was found on the Tirekhtyakh river in the remote Siberian region of Yakutia by locals hunting for mammoth tusks last year.

Photo: Dr Albert Protopopov, The Siberian Times
Source and text: Alec Luhn, https://www.smh.com.au/environment/sustainability/prehistoric-wolf-head-found-as-siberian-permafrost-thaws-20190612-p51wvo.html


The wolverine has been called a glutton, a trouble-maker, and a ferocious predator. Some people even believe that it is the animal behind the abominable snowman legends. A cloud of mystery surrounds the wolverine because this animal likes to be alone and is rarely seen by people. Recent studies have shown that the wolverine does not gorge itself on food and is not any more ferocious than an angry red squirrel.

Mating season is the only time of year that wolverines get together. Once mating has occurred, couples go their separate ways. Several months later mother wolverines make dens in rocky caves or beneath the roots of fallen trees. In March or April they have from two to five cubs. Wolverines do not breed until they are four years old. Most other arctic animals mate and have young long before this because they mature more rapidly than wolverines. Maturing late may account for the low wolverine population.

The wolverine is the largest member of the weasel family and, like other weasels, it is an omnivore that feeds on a variety of animal and plant foods. In summer it eats blueberries, ground squirrels, and birds' eggs. In winter it hunts small animals but spends most of its time as a scavenger, feeding on the carcasses of caribou, seals, and even whales.

The wolverine is known for its big feet and loping gait. As it runs, its four furry feet hit the ground all at once. These furry feet tend to slow the animal down in the summer, but they are a great advantage in the winter. When the wolverine chases a caribou, moose, or other large animal in the deep snow, it can move quickly, whereas the prey exhausts itself. Thanks to its snowshoe feet, the wolverine is able to bound along on top of the snow and kill stranded animals.

Photo and text: Kalman, B. 'Arctic Animals'


The "sabretoothed tiger," Smilodon, is the second most common fossil mammal found in the La Brea tar pits. The first Chairman of the University of California Department of Paleontology, Professor John C. Merriam , and his student Chester Stock, monographed the morphology of this great carnivore in 1932. Since then, hundreds of thousands of Smilodon bones have been found at La Brea. These finds have permitted remarkably detailed reconstructions of how Smilodon lived. We now know Smilodon was about a foot shorter than living lions but was nearly twice as heavy. Also, unlike cheetahs and lions (which have long tails that help provide balance when the animals run) Smilodon had a bobtail. These suggest that Smilodon did not chase down prey animals over long distances as lions, leopards, and cheetahs do. Instead, it probably charged from ambush, waiting for its prey to come close before attacking.

Photo: http://igs.indiana.edu/FossilsAndTime/Sabertooth.cfm
Text: http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/mammal/carnivora/sabretooth.html


Smilodon is a relatively recent sabretooth, from the Late Pleistocene . It went extinct about 10 000 years ago. Fossils have been found all over North America and Europe. Smilodon fossils from the La Brea tar pits include bones that show evidence of serious crushing or fracture injuries, or crippling arthritis and other degenerative diseases. Such problems would have been debilitating for the wounded animals. Yet many of these bones show extensive healing and regrowth indicating that even crippled animals survived for some time after their injuries. How did they survive? It seems most likely that they were cared for, or at least allowed to feed, by other sabretoothed cats. Solitary hunters with crippling injuries would not be expected to live long enough for the bones to heal. Smilodon appears to have lived in packs and had a social structure like modern lions. They were unlike tigers and all other living cats, which are solitary hunters. Occasional finds of sabretooth tooth sized holes in Smilodon bones suggest the social life of Smilodon was not always peaceful. The cats may have fought over food or mates as lions do today. Such fights were probably accompanied by loud roaring. From the structure of the hyoid bones in the throat of Smilodon, we know it could roar.

Text above: http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/mammal/carnivora/sabretooth.html

The ermine is another member of the weasel family. In the summer its long, lean body is covered in a coat of short dark brown fur. In the winter its coat turns to a snowy white color except for the black tip on its tail. In the past ermine furs and tails decorated the robes of royalty. Today ermines are still bred so that their pelts can be used to make coats. Ermine farmers of the Siberian Arctic make a good living raising these animals for their pelts.

Ermines make their homes in underground holes that have been dug out by other burrowing animals. Mother ermines make a cozy nursery lined with the fur from other animals. Their young grow quickly and are able to have families of their own in less than a year!

The ermine is an efficient hunter that preys on other small animals and birds. Its excellent sense of smell allows it to expertly sniff out its prey during the dark arctic nights. When killing its prey, the ermine pounces on it and bites it at the back of the neck. It then wraps its snakelike body around the victim to ensure that it cannot escape.

Photo and text: Kalman, B. 'Arctic Animals'

Photo: Bottoni L. et al, 'Central Europe'

The Badger
With its 27-inch (70 cm) length and 22 to 44 pounds (10 to 20 kg) of weight, the badger is certainly the most unusual animal of its family (which includes mink, weasels, ferrets, and martens). Besides its stocky body, another feature of the badger is its way of walking like a bear. it has some social behavior, but each badger sharing a den lives in a manner that is independent of the others. it makes a variety of sounds such as puffing noises, moans, bellows, growls, and long yells, although they are rarely heard by people.

Although they are all carnivores, their diets include large amounts of insects and plants.

The badger, a stocky animal with a black-and-white snout is primarily a vegetarian. However, it also eats bird eggs, young birds, small hares, and above all, rodents. It lives throughout Europe. The badger lives alone in dens at the edges of forests. The den is made in dry earth and has a main room, or chamber, that is generally 3 to 6 feet (1 to 2 m) deep. Many tunnels branch off from it leading to entrances at the surface that are at least 33 feet (10 m) from each other.

The badger leaves its den only at night to search for food. In the winter, although it does not hibernate, the badger sleeps for long periods. It wakes up from time to time to leave the den to search for food. During the mating season, which occurs in summer, the male and female live together. After mating, the embryo does not begin to develop for four to five months. In February, the female gives birth to three to five young. It nurses and cares for them until the next autumn.

Photo and text: Bottoni L. et al, 'Central Europe'

The Pine Marten is an agile climber and is able to prey on squirrels and birds.

Photo: Bottoni L. et al, 'Central Europe'

The Otter
This aquatic mammal has become quite rare in Europe. It lives in areas near fairly deep streams and lakes that have abundant vegetation. The otter has several mechanisms that enable it to live on both land and water. The eyes and nostrils are located toward the top of the head. The skull is flattened and the feet are webbed. When swimming, the legs are held against the body and the animal is propelled forward by a wavelike movement of the body. The tail also helps this movement and it also functions as a rudder.

When the otter is underwater, the nostrils and ears are closed and the muscles of the eyes adjust the eye lens so that the otter can see better. At night or in cloudy water, its vision is assisted by the sensitive whiskers of the snout Its coat has long, thick fur that is waterproofed by oils produced by the skin. In the water, the fur flattens and offers little resistance. The fluffy hairs near the skin remain dry, and the air trapped by them acts as an insulating layer.

The otter feeds mostly on fish and sometimes on aquatic birds, water voles, and nutrias (aquatic rodents that resemble beavers). It is an expert hunter. It can swim faster than fish, so it can follow them for long distances. It may wait for them under a rock or surprise them with a lightning fast dive.


Photo and text: Bottoni L. et al, 'Central Europe'

The European mink, foraging in an ice edged stream

The European lynx in a nature park in northern Norway.

The aurochs is the ancestor of domestic cattle. It became extinct at the beginning of the seventeenth century. The aurochs probably evolved from an ancestor that also lived in Asia Minor and North Africa. Evidence for this comes from drawings and paintings of an animal similar to the aurochs from ancient Egyptian and Assyrian sculptures. This animal was also mentioned in the Bible as "Re-em." The last written proof of the aurochs' existence comes from a document written by the Baron of Herbestein during 1513-1533. Under a drawing of the animal he wrote: 'I am the aurochs, called Thur by the Poles, Aurox by the Germans, and sometimes even bison by the ignorant.'

Text: Bottoni et al, 'Central Europe'

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2018
Source: Reconstruction, Musée de l'Homme, Paris


Aurochs skull, Bos primigenius

The last of the once most powerful European land mammal died near Warsaw, Poland, in 1627.

German zoo directors tried to 'recreate' an externally similar cattle breed in captivity. The result is the considerably smaller Heck cattle. Today, attempts are being made to get even closer to the original by mating large breeds of cattle with Heck cattle.

All of these efforts cannot change the fact that extinct species are lost forever.

Photo: Ralph Frenken 2013
Source and text: Museum of Natural History, Vienna, Austria

Roe deer feed on the leaves of a shrub. This deer is the smallest hoofed animal of the forest. It is also the most adaptable and widespread. It is even found in small villages and cultivated fields. The roe deer often enters gardens, and it is sometimes seen on paved roads. It has adapted well to the conditions of the modern world.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2018
Source: Reconstruction, Musée de l'Homme, Paris


The last wisents (European bison) living in the wild in the forest of Bialowieza were killed by hungry soldiers during the Russian Revolution and World War 1. Luckily, several wisents remained in the various zoos throughout the world. These animals were able to reproduce in captivity. The zoos carefully selected the animals to be mated, avoiding blood relationships that were too close (otherwise the offspring would have been less healthy). As a result of this breeding program, there are now over two thousand wisents in the world. They are found mainly in Poland and the Soviet Union, and they are exported to various countries.

Photo and text: Bottoni et al, 'Central Europe'



Photo: http://www.chantec5.co.uk/animaluk/articles/deer/deer2.html Text: http://homepage.tinet.ie/

The Flying squirrel
Photo: http://www.nature.ca/notebooks/english/eflysqur.htm

The following pair of animals,the southern mammoth and the hippopotamus, ranged over western Europe from the close of the Pliocene to the middle of the third interglacial, and were hunted by the early Neanderthals and their predecessors. They are associated in western Europe in the third interglacial with flints of Pre-Chellean, Chellean, and early Acheulian age.

Southern mammoth Elephas meridionalis
Photo: H. Osborn, 'Men of the Old Stone Age' (1916)

The hippopotamus Hippopotamus major
Photo: H. Osborn, 'Men of the Old Stone Age' (1916)

The following pair of animals (the broad nosed or Merck's rhinoceros, and the straight tusked or ancient elephant) replaced the pair above and were hunted by the Neanderthals, but not by Cro Magnon man. By the time that modern man appeared on the scene, these hardy large African-Asiatic mammals had been replaced by the woolly mammoth and the wooly rhinoceros.

Straight tusked or ancient elephant Elephas antiquus
Photo: H. Osborn, 'Men of the Old Stone Age' (1916)

Merck's rhinoceros Rhinoceros merckii
Photo: H. Osborn, 'Men of the Old Stone Age' (1916)

As the last great ice age (the fourth, or Wurm) began, the advancing ice of the Wurm glaciation forced tundra animals further south into western europe. The increasingly cold conditions altered the vegetation as well. The spruce, fir, and arctic willow were now found only in the more sheltered river valleys, while the rest of the landscape was mostly deforested. Animals from as far east as the Obi River on the eastern side of the Ural Mountains in present day Russia migrated into western europe, specifically the obi lemming. Once again the pair of large herbivores were replaced, this time by the woolly mammoth and the woolly rhinoceros.


Woolly Rhinoceros, Coelodonta antiquitatis

The adults had a weight of between 1.5 to 2.9 tons. and a maximum lifespan of 35 years.

They ate grasses, and the cows and calves presumably lived in small groups, while the bulls were solitary. The females had 1 calf at a time, with a gestation period circa 15-18 months. Because of finds from the permafrost of Siberia, and Palaeolithic cave art, we have an accurate picture of the appearance of these animals. The horns degraded easily in soil and are therefore preserved only in permafrost. The front horn is flattened on the front and was used as a snow shovel.

The woolly rhinoceros did not reach the extreme northeast of Eurasia and thus did not cross via the Bering Strait to North America. It died out at the end of the last ice age.

Photo: Ralph Frenken 2019
Source and text: Museum Wiesbaden

The woolly mammoth Elephas primagenius

Photo: H. Osborn, 'Men of the Old Stone Age' (1916)

Skeleton of a mammoth reconstructed from bones found in various caves in France.
Photo : Man before History by John Waechter

Dr Len Hills by mammoth tracks revealed in the St. Mary's Reservoir, southern Alberta, in 1999.

By an extraordinary quirk of geological fate, sediments from St Mary's Reservoir in southern Alberta have preserved a rich array of bones and footprints from Alberta's Ice Age: mammoth, musk-ox, horse, caribou, camel and giant bison. Some are more than 11,000 years old.

Photo: Dr Brian Kooyman, Department of Archaeology, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta
From: http://www.pma.edmonton.ab.ca/events/timetrav/vii/_tracks.htm

The woolly rhinoceros Rhinoceros antiquitatis

Photo: H. Osborn, 'Men of the Old Stone Age' (1916)

The woolly mammoth Elephas primagenius

This hardy animal of the tundra and its companion, the wooly rhinoceros, gradually replaced the African-Asiatic pair of the straight tusked elephant and Merck's rhinoceros.
Photo: H. Osborn, 'Men of the Old Stone Age' (1916)

The woolly rhinoceros Rhinoceros antiquitatis

This hardy animal of the tundra and its companion, the wooly mammoth, gradually replaced the African-Asiatic pair of the straight tusked elephant and Merck's rhinoceros.
Photo: H. Osborn, 'Men of the Old Stone Age' (1916)

The barren ground reindeer, Rangifer tarundus - a typical tundra animal.
Photo: H. Osborn, 'Men of the Old Stone Age' (1916)

The wolverine, Gulo luscus borealis - a typical tundra animal.
Photo: H. Osborn, 'Men of the Old Stone Age' (1916)

The arctic fox, Canis lagopus - a typical tundra animal.
Photo: H. Osborn, 'Men of the Old Stone Age' (1916)

The banded lemming, Myodes torquatus - a typical tundra animal.

Photo: H. Osborn, 'Men of the Old Stone Age' (1916)

The musk-ox, Ovibos moschatus - a typical tundra animal.
Photo: H. Osborn, 'Men of the Old Stone Age' (1916)

A musk-ox near Sondrestrom, Greenland, circa 1966
Photo: H. http://www.firebirds.org/menu10/mn10_p45.htm

A musk-ox in a nature park in northern Norway
Photo: Per, 2001


Modern descendants of the four principal types of the horse family which roamed over western Europe in Upper Paleolithic times.
(A) the plateau, desert or Celtic horse
(B) the steppe or Przwalski horse
(C) the forest or Nordic horse
(D) the kiang or wild ass of the Asiatic steppes
Photo: H. Osborn, 'Men of the Old Stone Age' (1916)

This is a rare shot of a Przwalski mare with foal.
Photo from http://museums.ncl.ac.uk/flint/images/horse.jpg



The desert or Celtic horse, with delicate head, long, slender limbs, and short back, from a painting on the ceiling of Altamira in northern Spain. The horse is painted in red ochre with black manganese outlines. The eye, ear, mouth, nostrils and chin are carefully engraved.
Photo: H. Osborn, 'Men of the Old Stone Age' (1916)


The European chamois
Photo: http://home.clear.net.nz/pages/henry/hnz.htm


Heads of four chamois engraved on a piece of reindeer horn, from the grotto of Gourdan, Haute-Garonne
Photo: H. Osborn, 'Men of the Old Stone Age' (1916)


The chamois
Photo: H. Osborn, 'Men of the Old Stone Age' (1916)


The ibex
Photo: H. Osborn, 'Men of the Old Stone Age' (1916)

If you are in any doubt about the abilities of ibex to negotiate steep slopes, these photos below should lay those doubts to rest.

This is the Diga del Cingino dam in Italy - can you see the little dots on the wall? What do you think they are?

Photo and text: viral email

Look even closer. Still don't know what they are?

Photo and text: viral email

Let's take an even closer look. They are European Ibex.

Photo and text: viral email

They like to eat the moss & lichen, and lick the salt off the dam wall.

Photo and text: viral email



The alpine vole enlarged and the vole and ptarmigan at the same scale
Photo: H. Osborn, 'Men of the Old Stone Age' (1916)


The argali sheep
Photo: H. Osborn, 'Men of the Old Stone Age' (1916)

Steppe animals from the steppes and deserts of Asia, (particularly the Ukraine) which invaded western Europe in Upper Palaeolithic times, first in the late Acheulian times, and fully represented by Magdalenian times.


The saiga antelope. Surely one of the least beautiful of all the steppe animals.
Photo: H. Osborn, 'Men of the Old Stone Age' (1916)
The great jerboa hopping mouse and the steppe hamster. The jerboa is bigger than shown here in comparison to the hamster.
Photo: H. Osborn, 'Men of the Old Stone Age' (1916)


Little Ice Age Triggered by Arctic Sea Ice

The Little Ice Age, a period of global cooling that lasted from the early 14th century to the mid-19th century, was triggered by an exceptionally large outflow of sea ice from the Arctic Ocean into the North Atlantic in the 1300s, according to a new paper published in the journal Science Advances.

Bathymetric map of the Fram Strait gateway and downstream region red circles indicate location of marine sediment cores. Inset: Danish historical ice chart from the early 20th century showing the extension of the Arctic Ocean-origin sea ice observed along Southwest Greenland. Image credit: Miles et al, doi: 10.1126/sciadv.aba4320.

“We decided to put together different strands of evidence to try to reconstruct spatially and temporally what the sea ice was during the past one and a half thousand years, and then just see what we found,” said Dr. Martin Miles, a researcher in the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research at the University of Colorado, Boulder and the NORCE Norwegian Research Centre and the Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research.

Dr. Miles and colleagues pulled together records from marine sediment cores drilled from the ocean floor from the Arctic Ocean to the North Atlantic to get a detailed look at sea ice throughout the region over the last 1,400 years.

The cores included compounds produced by algae that live in sea ice, the shells of single-celled organisms that live in different water temperatures, and debris that sea ice picks up and transports over long distances. The cores were detailed enough to detect abrupt changes in sea ice and ocean conditions over time.

The records indicate an abrupt increase in Arctic sea ice exported to the North Atlantic starting around 1300, peaking in mid-century, and ending abruptly in the late 1300s.

“I’ve always been fascinated by not just looking at sea ice as a passive indicator of climate change, but how it interacts with or could actually lead to changes in the climate system on long timescales. And the perfect example of that could be the Little Ice Age,” Dr. Miles said.

On one hand, the new reconstruction provides robust evidence of a massive sea-ice anomaly that could have been triggered by increased explosive volcanism.

One the other hand, the same evidence supports an intriguing alternate explanation.

Climate models called ‘control models’ are run to understand how the climate system works through time without being influenced by outside forces like volcanic activity or greenhouse gas emissions.

A set of recent control model experiments included results that portrayed sudden cold events that lasted several decades.

The model results seemed too extreme to be realistic — so-called Ugly Duckling simulations — and the researchers were concerned that they were showing problems with the models.

The new study found that there may be nothing wrong with those models at all.

“We actually find that number one, we do have physical, geological evidence that these several decade-long cold sea ice excursions in the same region can, in fact do, occur,” Dr. Miles said.

“In the case of the Little Ice Age, what we reconstructed in space and time was strikingly similar to the development in an Ugly Duckling model simulation, in which a spontaneous cold event lasted about a century. It involved unusual winds, sea ice export, and a lot more ice east of Greenland, just as we found in here.”

The provocative results show that external forcing from volcanoes or other causes may not be necessary for large swings in climate to occur.

“These results strongly suggest… that these things can occur out of the blue due to internal variability in the climate system,” Dr. Miles said.

The marine cores also show a sustained, far-flung pulse of sea ice near the Norse colonies on Greenland coincident with their disappearance in the 15th century.

A debate has raged over why the colonies vanished, usually agreeing only that a cooling climate pushed hard on their resilience.

The study authors would like to factor in the oceanic changes nearby: very large amounts of sea ice and cold polar waters, year after year for nearly a century.

“This massive belt of ice that comes streaming out of the Arctic — in the past and even today — goes all the way around Cape Farewell to around where these colonies were,” Dr. Miles said.

“We would like to look more closely into oceanic conditions along with researchers who study the social sciences in relation to climate.”


The Coming Ice Age

How a rising of the ocean waters may flood most of our port cities within the foreseeable future — and why it will be followed by the growth of a vast glacier which may eventually cover much of Europe and North America.

T HIS is the story of two scientists, who started five years ago — with a single radiocarbon clue from the ocean bottom and a wild hunch — to track down one of the earth’s great unsolved mysteries: What caused the ancient ice ages? Their search led over many continents and seas, to drowned rivers and abandoned mountain caves, into far-removed branches of science. It took them down through recorded history, from the stone tablets of primitive man to contemporary newspaper headlines.

Maurice Ewing and the schooner Vema. Image from Neptune’s Needle

These two serious, careful scientists — geophysicist Maurice Ewing, director of Columbia University’s Lamont Geological Observatory, and geologist-meteorologist William Donn believe they have finally found the explanation for the giant glaciers, which four times during the past million years have advanced and retreated over the earth. If they are right, the world is now heading into another Ice Age. It will come not as sudden catastrophe, but as the inevitable culmination of a process that has already begun in northern oceans.

As Ewing and Donn read the evidence, an Ice Age will result from a slow warming and rising of the ocean that is now taking place. They believe that this ocean flood — which may submerge large coastal areas of the eastern United States and western Europe — is going to melt the ice sheet which has covered the Arctic Ocean through all recorded history. Calculations based on the independent observations of other scientists indicate this melting could begin, within roughly one hundred years.

It is this melting of Arctic ice which Ewing and Donn believe will set off another Ice Age on earth. They predict that it will cause great snows to fall in the north — perennial unmelting snows which the world has not seen since the last Ice Age thousands of years ago. These snows will make the Arctic glaciers grow again, until their towering height forces them forward. The advance south will be slow, but if it follows the route of previous ice ages, it will encase in ice large parts of North America and Europe. It would, of course, take many centuries for that wall of ice to reach New York and Chicago, London and Paris. But its coming is an inevitable consequence of the cycle which Ewing and Donn believe is now taking place.

The coming of another Ice Age is an event serious scientists have never been able to predict from observable Earth phenomena. For until Ewing and Donn postulated their new Theory of Ice Ages (it was first published in Science in June 1956 and a second report appeared in May 1958) the very nature of the problem seemed to defy the kind of scientific understanding which makes prediction possible.

Scientists know that the glaciers which stand quiet in the Arctic today once covered America with a wall of ice up to two miles thick — its southern boundary extending from Long Island across New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, and the Dakotas to the Missouri River, with extensions into the western mountain country . . . that it covered northern Europe, England, large parts of France and Germany . . . that it created the Great Lakes, the Hudson and St. Lawrence Rivers . . . that it moved mountains, crashed down forests, destroyed whole species of life.

They also know that it is cold enough at the Arctic for glaciers to grow today, but almost no snow has fallen there in modern times. What caused those snows that built the Ice Age glaciers until their own height forced them to march, and what caused them finally to retreat? And why has the earth been swinging back and forth between Ice Ages and climate like today’s for a million years, when before then the entire planet enjoyed a temperate climate with no extremes of hot or cold? Scientists could answer these questions only in terms of sudden catastrophe — a volcanic eruption, the earth’s movement into a cloud of cosmic dust — and unpredictable catastrophes are not the concern of contemporary science. Few scientists had even worked on the problem in recent years.

It was only by a combination of lucky circumstance and persistent curiosity that Ewing and Donn as a team began working steadily on the Ice Age Mystery. As Director of Lamont Geological Observatory, located on top of the New York Palisades over the Hudson River, Ewing teaches theoretical geophysics and directs research in earthquake seismology, marine geology and biology, and oceanography. Donn teaches geology at Brooklyn College and directs the research in meteorology at Lamont. Since the two men live twenty miles apart and were occupied all day, they would often meet at eleven at night in a deserted laboratory at Columbia University — midway between their homes — and work into the morning on the Ice Age trail.

T HE two men share the scientist’s passion for pure search, no matter where it leads. Ewing, a tall and powerful Texan who speaks in a gentle voice, was white-haired before he was fifty, a fact his friends attribute to the pace at which he has lived his life as a scientist. For a quarter-century he has been leading expeditions over the ocean, often risking his life while pioneering new methods of investigating its secrets. In the early 1930s he founded a new science by dropping charges from a whale boat and using a seismograph to identify the different layers of earth beneath the ocean. In 1955 he was given the Navy Distinguished Service Award for devising the SOFAR (Sound Fixing and Ranging) method for rescuing men from ships and planes lost at sea.

Donn, New York City bred, is a slight, wiry meteorologist, who tames tidal waves with logarithms. His mastery of the complex relationship between sea and weather complemented Ewing’s knowledge of the depths of the oceans.

The original bits of information which set the two scientists onto the trail of the Ice Age Mystery first came to light on the decks of the three-masted schooner Vema which Lamont Observatory uses for scientific exploration. In the summer of 1953, the ship traced a puzzling pattern on the ocean bottom which led from the Atlantic to the Gulf of Mexico and into the Caribbean Sea. The Columbia-Lamont crew were working with their newly perfected “deep sea corer,” a device which can bring up primeval sediment undisturbed through as much as 4,000 fathoms of water (24,000 feet) — just as it was deposited thousands of years ago.

This “corer” is a sharp-edged steel tube, two-and-a-half inches in diameter and up to 70 feet in length. When it has been lowered from the ship to within 15 feet of the sea bottom, a trigger trips the holding mechanism and the tube is punched by a weight into the sediment. The Lamont ocean expeditions have brought up cores as long as 60 feet — nearly 2,000 of them — representing the successive deposits of thousands of years. As Ewing describes it,

“The entire record of the earth is there in the most undisturbed form it is possible to find anywhere — traces of the animals, rocks, and plants of successive ages preserved in the order in which they filtered down from the surface of the sea.”

Only recently, radioactive isotope techniques have made if possible to deduce when the sediment was deposited, and other things about the world from which it came. Scientists can now measure the radiocarbon in a sample of ocean-bottom mud — and know how long it has lain there. Radioactive carbon ceases to be replenished when removed from the atmosphere, and decays at a known rate. Chemists therefore calculate from the ratio of radiocarbon to ordinary carbon in a fossil shell whether it has been decaying for a thousand, five, or ten thousand years.

In these cores of mud from the Caribbean, the equatorial Atlantic, and the Gulf of Mexico that summer, the Lamont expedition kept seeing a strange sharp line. “About a foot below the floor of the ocean the sediment suddenly changed from salmon pink to gray,” Ewing said. “You could see it sharp as a razor when the cores were opened on the ship’s deck. Others had reported this same line in the North Atlantic.

“When we put these cores to paleontological laboratory tests back at Lamont, we found out what that razor-sharp line meant: at a certain time the ocean suddenly changed from cold to warm. The pink sediment contained shells of minute warm-water animals the gray sediment, cold-water animals.”

Back at Lamont, measurement of radiocarbon showed that this sudden warming took place throughout the length and breadth of the vast Atlantic Ocean — 11,000 years ago. The cores showed virtually no change in temperature for 90,000 years — except for this one sudden increase. Donn, Lamont’s meteorological expert, was as mystified as Ewing.

“What happened 11,000 years ago to heat the ocean?” they kept asking themselves at odd moments over the next year or so. “What could change the climate of the whole ocean so abruptly?”

N EITHER Ewing nor Donn can say precisely when the hunch came. The problem continued to tantalize them, as they traveled about the country attending meetings and doing field work. On the way back from Chicago, they may have watched the ice break up in the Delaware River. They recall reading a newspaper item about a big gambling jackpot on which day the ice would go out in the Yukon. The chain of thought seems obvious now: water freezing — ice going out — this is a sharp, abrupt change, the only sudden change that can happen to a body of water.

But oceans don’t freeze. Ocean currents dissipate the cold — except, of course, in the small Arctic Ocean which is almost entirely surrounded by land.

“What would happen if the ice went out of the Arctic Ocean as it does in the Yukon or the Delaware?” Ewing and Donn remember wondering, as they went over the problem again, one day at Lamont.

“Well, we figured, the Arctic Ocean would get warmer. Because water would flow more freely between it and the Atlantic, dissipating the cold. And of course, the Atlantic Ocean would get colder. But wait a minute . . . we saw it simultaneously. If the Arctic Ocean were open water, warmed by the Atlantic, warmer than the land around it, water would evaporate and fall as snow on the land. More snow on Greenland and northern Canada would make glaciers grow. Glaciers don’t grow now because there is no open water in the Arctic to provide the moisture for snow.

“And suddenly we had the startling hunch that the Arctic Ocean was open during the Ice Age. And that it froze over only 11,000 years ago. It was this freezing over of the Arctic Ocean which so suddenly warmed the Atlantic — and ended the Ice Age.”

“That rather exciting ten minutes,” they told me, “contradicted a whole lot of things we’d always taken for granted. Everyone has assumed that the Arctic Ocean, so covered with ice today, would be even colder and more completely frozen during an Ice Age.

“You get a lot of these wild ideas in our business. If one lasts five minutes you begin to take it seriously. The more we thought about this one, the more it added up. It explained so many things that have always puzzled us.

“For once you accept the radical idea that the Arctic was a warm open ocean at the time of the great continental glaciers, you can reconstruct a completely different weather pattern from the one we know today. As we worked it out, we could see a startling chain of cause and effect between the oceans and the glaciers themselves. We could see how the oceans would work as an actual ‘thermostat’ to keep the earth alternating between glacial ice ages and interglacial periods such as today.

“It all hinges on the fact that the North Pole is where it is — in the middle of the Arctic Ocean, which is almost completely surrounded by land except for a shallow ‘sill’ between Norway and Greenland opening into the Atlantic, and the insignificant Bering Strait. If the cold waters of the Arctic interchanged freely over this sill with the warm Atlantic water, the Arctic Ocean would not freeze over. Its moisture would build glaciers. (In the cold temperatures of the north, the moisture that evaporates from the open Arctic would all fall as snow — too much snow to melt in the short Arctic summer. When the rate at which snow accumulates exceeds the rate at which it melts, glaciers grow.) But as those glaciers grew, they would lock up so much ocean water that sea level would fall.

“We know that sea level was lowered between 300 and 400 feet at the peak of the last Ice Age. Now, most of that sill between Norway and Greenland is less than 300 feet deep. At a certain point the glaciers would lower the sea level so much that the Arctic Ocean would be virtually cut off from the warmer Atlantic. The Arctic Ocean would then freeze over. And the glaciers, no longer led by snow, would melt under the Arctic summer sun, restoring their water to the oceans. Then sea level would rise, until enough warm Atlantic water again flowed over that sill to melt the Arctic ice sheet, and start another glacial cycle.”

Donn worked out a weather map of the world, with an open Arctic Ocean, warmer than surrounding lands. It showed a completely different storm pattern than exists today more rain and snow in the Arctic, a wind pattern carrying more ocean moisture inland generally. It showed violent blizzards over eastern North America which would spread more snow on the glaciers. Summers would become more like winters as the glacial wall advanced southward. Donn’s weather map with the open Arctic even showed that there would be rain in today’s deserts.

But they needed more proof for their theory. They had to track down the circumstantial evidence of what happened 11,000 years ago they had to find geological witnesses to confirm their reconstruction of the crime.

CLUES FROM A DROWNED RIVER

T HEY embarked on the painstaking examination of the records of past Arctic explorers. There was little relevant data. One day, going through dusty old volumes of the National Geographic, they found a photograph of an Arctic beach — a beach that could have been made only by long years of pounding waves. There must have been open sea in the Arctic to make that beach.

Ewing took to sea in the Vema again. In the Gulf of Mexico, the Ice Age trail seemed to peter out altogether in a bottomless plain of flat gray silt. The Vema took core after core below the Mississippi Delta without finding the crucial fossil lines.

“We couldn’t even get to the bottom of it with our corers,” Ewing recalls. “We were sure the Gulf must have changed from cold to warm just as the other oceans, but how could we prove it when there seemed to be no fossils at all in that endless gray layer? We suspected that the gray silt had come from the Mississippi and had spread over the floor of the Gulf by creeping along the bottom. If we could find a hill that stood well above the Gulf floor, the sediment on top of it would have come down undisturbed from the surface of the water and might contain the record of those temperature changes.”

They nearly sailed over them — a cluster of hills rising a thousand feet off the ocean floor. There, instead of puzzling gray silt, they finally found the familiar, razor-sharp layers of glacial and interglacial fossils.

And that very gray silt which had obscured their trail turned out to be further proof that 11,000 years ago was the date the Ice Age ended.

For back at Lamont, radiocarbon measurement showed that the silt stopped sliding from the Mississippi just 11,000 years ago. This meant that a great rise in sea level must have taken place at just that time. Drowned by the rising sea, the lower channels of the Mississippi River would retain their own sediment, losing the power to take it out to the deep central part of the Gulf, it was, almost certainly, the rise in sea level caused by the melting of the glaciers.

A S THE Lamont crew were pursuing this mystery in the sea, other scientists were unearthing new Ice Age clues on land. Atomic Energy Commissioner Willard F. Libby, the scientist who originated radiocarbon dating, found fossils of a forest at Two Creeks, Wisconsin, that had been first flooded and then overridden by the advancing ice. Radiocarbon dating proved that those trees, at one of the southern fingertips of the last glacial advance, were pushed over about 11,000 years ago. (Previously, geologists thought the ice had disappeared long before that time.)

Then a series of dramatic clues were brought in by other geologists from caves in the cliffs above the dry Great Basin of Nevada and Utah. Several thousand feet above the basin are rock niches worn by the waves of glacial lakes — lakes created by the great rains that fell south of the Ice Age snows. Far below are caves, also worn by those waves, that were inhabited by man: the famous Fishbone Cave above the dry Winnemucca Lake in western Nevada and the Danger Cave above glacial Lake Bonneville in Utah.

The evidence showed that men moved into those caves shortly after the lake level suddenly dropped and exposed them. Remains were found of the nets and baskets they used to catch the fish of the now vanished glacial lakes. Radiocarbon dating showed that men were living in those caves — brought above the water when the great glacial rains and snows stopped — approximately 11,000 years ago. And the time during which the glacial lakes dropped from those niches thousands of feet above on the cliffs, to the level of the lower caves, was dramatically short — only several hundred years. It was like the sudden change Ewing and Donn had observed in the ocean. The date was now established: 11,000 years ago, plus or minus a few hundred years, the last Ice Age suddenly ended.

At the time the theory was constructed, there was no actual evidence from the Arctic Ocean itself to indicate it had ever been ice-free. Some months later Dr. A. P. Crary came back from the Arctic Ocean and sent his cores to Lamont. These cores indicated there had been minute animal life for thousands of years in the Arctic Ocean, which suddenly stopped — eleven millenniums ago. They also showed evidence of icebergs free to move in open water at the time Ewing and Donn think the Arctic was open.

C OULD men have lived on the shores of this ocean during the Ice Age? Were there human witnesses to the open Arctic sea?

“It was only by accident that we stumbled on a vital clue in a completely different branch of science,’’ they told me. “We might have missed it altogether because of the compartmentalization of science.”

One day a colleague of Donn’s happened to remark over coffee that he’d overheard an anthropologist in the faculty room talking about some traces that had just been discovered of an ancient civilization around the Arctic.

Donn and Ewing started calling anthropologists. The evidence was uncertain, they learned, but some of it pointed strongly to well-established communities of man around the Arctic many thousands of years ago. In fact, the oldest flints showing man in America had been found recently in a band around the Arctic Circle, seldom straying south.

Anthropologists had been mystified. Even if a land bridge between Siberia and Alaska had existed then, why would man choose to use it to settle in the Arctic Circle, in the very heart of the intense polar cold, at temperature which was assumed to be even lower than today? Around that frozen Arctic Ocean, where would man have found the fish and game those flints suggested? Why would men have stayed there for centuries — unless, as Ewing and Donn now believe, the Arctic Ocean was open then, and its shores were a warm oasis compared with the glaciers to the South?

Ewing and Donn got another anthropologist out of bed late at night to question him further. He told them that, while anthropologists are still uncertain as to how and when man first came to America, they are pretty sure he suddenly started migrating south, in an explosive wave, about 11,000 years ago.

Here, perhaps, were their human witnesses to the end of the Ice Age! The people who lived “beyond the north wind’’ on Arctic shores, behind the towering wall of ice, using their flint-tipped weapons on big game and fish that could not survive in the cold Arctic temperatures of today. These men evidently came to America from Siberia when the glaciers had taken enough water from the sea to uncover the Siberian land bridge. They stayed for some centuries around the warm Arctic because the glaciers kept them from straying south. Then, 11,000 years ago, they suddenly fled. If the Arctic Ocean suddenly froze over, they couldn’t eat. Nor could they go back to Siberia because the great rise in sea level at the end of the Ice Age would once more submerge the land bridge.

And just at the time when they could no longer stay in the Arctic, paths opened in the great ice wall south of them. The melting glaciers permitted men to go south at last — in such a rapid wave that they reached the tip of South America in a few thousand years.

So anthropologists are now reconstructing their own mysteries in the light of Ewing and Donn’s Theory of Ice Ages — which California’s authority on early man, Carl Sauer, calls “a major contribution to our understanding. . . . The old, simple belief that man waited at the threshold of the New World until the last ice sheet was gone has been proved wrong.”

And, finally, human witnesses were tracked down in southern deserts. During this past year archaeologists have brought back new evidence that the Sahara desert was green and fertile and thriving with civilization when glaciers froze life in America and Europe. Ewing and Donn had deduced that an open Arctic Ocean would have caused rain in today’s deserts. Now, from the caves of the Sahara, came ancient man’s vivid drawings of the animals that he hunted on the once grassy desert.

O NE big question remained which the new theory did not seem to answer: What started off the first Ice Age cycle?

“We know that during the past million years, the world has swung back and forth between ice ages and weather like today’s,” Ewing and Donn told me. “Before then, the whole earth was much warmer. There were no zones of extreme heat or cold palms and magnolias grew in Greenland, and coral around Iceland subtropical plants thrived within eleven degrees of the North Pole. Why didn’t the Arctic Ocean-glacier ‘thermostat’ work then? What suddenly turned it on one million years ago?

“The answer, we believe, is chat until a million years ago, the North Pole was not in that landlocked Arctic Ocean at all, but in the middle of the open Pacific, where there was no land on which snow and ice could accumulate, and ocean currents dissipated the cold.

“The idea of wandering poles may seem fantastic. But recently-discovered magnetic evidence leads to the geological inference that the whole earth can shift its surface crust with respect to the interior. As the earth’s crustal zone ‘slides’ over the interior, different points on the surface can be at the North or South Pole.

“Such a shift in the earth’s crust, it is now believed, did take place before the first Pleistocene fee Age which began a million years ago. Before then, the magnetic record shows the North Pole in the middle of the Pacific, and the South Pole in the open southern Atlantic.

“An abrupt shift in the earth’s crust carried the North Pole into the small and virtually landlocked Arctic, and the South Pole to the Antarctic continent, where the polar cold could not be dissipated by free ocean currents. That started the greatly contrasting zones of climate we know today — and the concentration of cold which finally froze the Arctic Ocean, to start the Ice Age cycles.”

This would explain why the Ice Age glaciers have always marched from the Arctic. No ocean thermostat exists to turn on drastic glacial-interglacial cycles in the Antarctic. There, according to the theory, the Antarctic ice cap has been building up continually since the South Pole shifted to that continent a million years ago, with only minor changes caused by the slight warming and cooling of the Atlantic in the glacial-interglacial cycles. This is confirmed by evidence from elevated beaches, which seems to indicate that maximum sea level has been dropping successively lower in each glacial era.

And as long as the poles stay where they are, the Ice Age cycles must continue.

E WING and Donn realized that their theory had startling implications for the future. They have the scientist’s distaste for the sensational and carefully worked out the wording of the theory’s formal conclusion: “The recent epoch can be considered as another interglacial stage.” A number of scientists have tried to disprove their theory so far they have been unsuccessful.

As Ewing and Donn read the glacial thermostat, the present interglacial stage is well advanced the earth is now heading into another Ice Age. Certain signs, some of them visible to the layman as well as the scientist, indicate we may have been watching an Ice Age approach for some time without realizing what we were seeing.

Although scientists do not agree on its significance, they have observed an increasingly rapid warming and rising of the ocean in recent years. Warm water flowing north has driven the codfish off Cape Cod to Newfoundland annual temperature has risen ten degrees in Iceland and Greenland down here winters are warmer the Hudson River no longer freezes over as it used to. It is part of the Ewing-Donn paradox that the next Ice Age will be preceded by such a warming of climate.

“We suspect that the ocean is already warm enough to melt the Arctic ice sheet,” Ewing and Donn told me. “For some time it has remained at the highest temperature ever reached in the four previous interglacial stages.” As climate becomes warmer, more and more glacial melt-water pours into the sea. The Atlantic has already risen 300 feet since the glaciers of the last Ice Age started to melt away. Up until twenty-five years ago the U.S. Geodetic Surveys indicated that sea level was rising six inches a century in the past twenty-five years that rate has increased to two feet a century.

As sea level rises, more and more warm water pours over the Norway-Greenland sill, under the Arctic ice sheet. American, Russian, and Scandinavian scientists have observed a definite warming of the Arctic Ocean over the past fifty years, and a consequent thinning of the ice sheet. At an international conference on Arctic sea ice in March 1958, scientists estimated that Arctic ice covers an area 12 per cent smaller than it did fifteen years ago, and is 40 per cent thinner. A layman might surmise that if this trend continues the Arctic Ocean will be open and the Ice Age begin in another twenty years. Ewing and Dunn are much more cautious about predictions.

“The rate at which our weather has been warming in recent years could be temporarily slowed down,” they told me. “We don’t know the exact rate at which the sea is now rising. We need long-term world-wide evidence which the International Geophysical Year may give us to assess accurately the changes that seem to be taking place in the ocean and the ice.”

If the ocean continues to warm up at the present rate, Ewing and Donn think it is conceivable that there will be open water in the Arctic within about a hundred years. If they are right, tor the first time in the history of the world, the victims of an Ice Age are going to see it coming. Television cameramen will be raging all over the far north, covering the break-up of the Arctic ice sheet, looking for the first dirty summer slush. For the Ice Age will dawn, not in crashing glacial terror but in slush as Ewing and Donn describe it, on a summer vacation up north, you will simply see a lot of dirty slush, winter’s snow that for the first time in thousands of years didn’t quite melt.

In many parts of America, at that time, the worry may not be ice, but water. Many scientists have speculated on the ocean flood that will be caused if the melting of glacial icecaps continues. Antarctic scientist Laurence Gould recently warned that “the return of only a few feet of thickness of ice as melt-water to the oceans would have serious effects in many places and if all the ice were melted into the sea, its level would rise from 150 to 200 feet. All the world’s seaports and some of its most densely populated areas would be submerged.”

Ewing and Donn don’t know how much higher the sea is going to rise before it melts the Arctic ice sheet. They say the ocean has already risen to the point where, if certain recent storms had occurred at high tide, it would have flooded New York and Boston subways. Donn is now working at Lamont on studies of long and short period changes in world sea level.

The ocean flood that brings about the Ice Age will not resemble the flash floods that have caused havoc in the cast in recent years. It will build up slowly, and it will not flow away. The cities, industries, and military bases that are concentrated on both sides of the Atlantic may have to be evacuated. (Fortunately, Pacific coastlines are higher.)

It will probably be possible to protect New York and Washington by levees. Parts or all of New Orleans, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and other cities are now protected by levees from high water, Ewing and Donn point out. Evidently, New York is in no danger of becoming a lost Atlantis, drowned under the sea. If low-lying Brooklyn, Miami, Washington, New Orleans, or Amsterdam should become ghost cities, it will be because a decision will have been made long in advance of this slow-creeping flood to evacuate rather than build levees.

“According to our theory, with the melting of the Arctic ice sheet, the rise in sea level will stop,” Ewing and Donn explained. Instead of adding water to the sea, the glaciers will begin taking it out.

For a long time after the ocean flood subsides, the only effect the Ice Age will have on us down here will be more rain. The new Arctic moisture that falls as snow on the glaciers will increase both rain and snow here, swelling rivers and watering deserts. Then, gradually, our weather will cool. Icy winds will blow from the advancing glaciers the great snows will fall farther and farther south. In several thousand years a two-mile ice sheet may cover the United States and Europe. If man finds no way to switch the glacial thermostat, there may well be a real estate boom in the Sahara.


Where Was Man During the Ice Age?

Biblical history records events during or soon after the Ice Age. This epoch includes the Book of Job and the life and times of the Jewish patriarchs.

When we think of Ice Age man, we usually think of a brutish, ape-like caveman that hunted woolly mammoths and woolly rhinos. According to evolutionary theory, the Ice Age is the time when man evolved through a series of missing links. (See “Are there missing links between man and apes?” at the end of this chapter for a discussion on supposed missing links.)

Biblical history records events during or soon after the Ice Age. This epoch includes the Book of Job and the life and times of the Jewish patriarchs. The Bible’s focus is on events that took place in the Middle East after the Flood. So, we should not expect to read about an Ice Age in the Bible .

Based on Genesis 10–11 , we can deduce that for the first 100 years after the Flood, man lived exclusively in the Middle East. After leaving the ark, Noah and his three sons and their wives and their offspring settled and remained in the Tigris-Euphrates River area until the Tower of Babel incident. When Noah and his family left the ark, God commanded them to multiply and fill the earth once again ( Gen. 9:7 ). They chose to not spread out from there in disobedience to God. Within a fairly short time, rebellion against God began. It reached a crisis point when the people of Babel built a tower to reach into “heaven.” The rebellion very likely involved astrology. God judged them by giving them a confusion of language that resulted in their dispersal over the earth (figure 13.1). This happened about 100 to 300 years after the Flood. By then the Ice Age was well underway.

Dispersion South

Figure 13.1. The confusion of languages at the Tower of Babel.

Many people decided to head southwest and southeast from the warm Tigris-Euphrates Valley (figure 13.2). Those heading southwest settled around the Dead Sea, Palestine, Egypt, the Sahara Desert and the remainder of Africa. At that time, the summer climate of the entire area was still cooler and wetter than our present climate. This accounts for the thriving post-Flood civilizations found in areas that are now inhospitable. A few hundred years after the Flood and well into the Ice Age, the Sahara was teeming with life, as witnessed by the remains of aquatic animals and the extensive rock art discovered in the Sahara Desert.

Other groups headed southeast into India, Southeast Asia, New Guinea, Australia, and eventually to New Zealand and the islands of the western Pacific. The Australian Aborigines would be included in this early group.

Dispersion Northwest

Those that headed northwest had to be hearty.1 They were migrating toward the Scandinavian ice sheet in northern Europe and northwestern Asia. They probably had no idea that an ice sheet existed when they first headed north, but soon they saw ice caps in the mountains. The volcanic ash and aerosols in the stratosphere made their days a little dark and cold, but game was plentiful. It was unlikely they could grow crops because the summers were too cool and the growing season too short, but they probably gathered berries and roots along the way. Large game was a possible factor for them moving farther and farther north. Eventually a few entered the land of the woolly mammoths. Caves were the most practical places to live. Your classic European “caveman” then became a reality, but he was neither brutish nor ape-like. They are known as Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon man, were probably of average-or-greater intelligence (being able to survive in a harsh environment), and were not missing links.

Figure 13.2. Dispersion from the Tower of Babel. (Drawn by Daniel Lewis of AiG-USA.)

Neanderthal (or Neandertal) man was once considered a link between apes and humans, but this was because of evolutionary bias. He did have some unusual facial features, but his brain was a little larger than modern man, whose brain averages almost three times the size of an ape brain. That should have spoken volumes to the early evolutionists who are always anxious to find a missing link. Over one hundred skeletons of Neanderthal man have been found in the caves of Europe, western Asia, and northern Africa. Their skeletons from the neck down are almost identical to modern man. Neanderthal man had brow ridges, lacked a chin, and the back of his head extended backwards. These skull features could be either unique genetic features (a result of inbreeding) or caused by disease. Some of their features could have been caused by diseases like rickets and arthritis that some of them were known to possess. Rickets is caused by a lack of vitamin D, which would be a common result of living in caves during the cloudy, bleak days of the Ice Age.

Cro-Magnon man, who looked as modern as you and I, seemed to follow the Neanderthals into Europe sometime later. They also lived in caves. They, along with the Neanderthals, used stone tools, probably because any metal tools they possessed upon leaving Babel had worn out. They also left their artwork on cave walls throughout the region. The Cro-Magnon people most likely interacted with Neanderthal man. Life would have been challenging for both groups in those days, but the abundant game kept them alive. For an account of what life was probably like living in a cave close to the ice sheet as seen through the eyes of a 12-year-old boy, read Life in the Great Ice Age.2

The Cro-Magnon and Neanderthals very likely intermarried and are included within the Europeans and Asians of today. We find skeletons from the Ice Age period that show a mixture of features from both groups of people.

Large game would have become scarce during the extinctions at the end the Ice Age, but since summers were becoming warmer, man was able to start planting and harvesting again. He built tribal dwellings, then villages, and then cities. Civilization and agriculture developed rapidly. Life in the great Ice Age was only a blip in the life of man in Europe and western Asia. Evolutionary archeologists and anthropologists have thought that the development of agriculture was slow in Europe, but this is very likely due to their evolutionary bias in which man evolved from the apes over millions of years. Some archeologists now are recognizing that agriculture could have developed in Europe rapidly:

The realization that recent hunter-gatherers can turn to herding and crop cultivation if they perceive this to be advantageous has major implications for studies of agricultural origins in Europe.3

Origin of the Native Americans

Other families left the Tigris-Euphrates Valley heading east and northeast (figure 13.2). They, too, would have been a hardy people, since the continental interior of Asia was relatively cold with ice caps developing in the higher mountains. Those spreading due east were the ancient Oriental tribes who settled in eastern Asia.

Some of the tribes would have moved northeast into Siberia. Winters were cold in this region, but not nearly as cold as they are today. Game was overwhelmingly abundant. This is where the woolly mammoths lived by the millions. There are quite a number of signs that early man inhabited Siberia, especially southern Siberia. Just recently, archeologists discovered that man lived during the Ice Age along the Yana River in north central Siberia.4 This time would be, according to evolutionary theory, during the “paleolithic” (old stone age) and “neolithic” (new stone age) periods. These classifications from the 1800s are now seen as simplifications:

We saw earlier how the nineteenth-century scheme for European prehistory divides it into a sequence of ages based on the material used for cutting tools — first stone, then bronze, then iron. Archaeologists today realize that while these can be useful divisions, they don’t necessarily correspond to major changes in the way prehistoric people lived or prehistoric communities functioned.5

As the tribes continued on their journeys, some remained in Siberia while others with more wanderlust continued moving on. It is even possible that as they approached the mild Pacific or Arctic Ocean, the climate was warmer than interior Asia. This might have motivated them to continue migrating east.

Figure 13.3. The dispersal of man rounding the Bering land bridge and into North America through an ice-free corridor. An alternate coastal route is also shown.

Soon some of the nomads reached the Bering Strait between Siberia and Alaska. Because it was either shallow or dry, they crossed into the New World and became the first Native Americans to reach Alaska. The lowlands of Alaska had mild winters and cool summers at this time. As always, some people would settle down and others would continue migrating. From Alaska, they continued on into the Yukon Territory of northwest Canada and southeast along the east slopes of the Rocky Mountains and down the ice-free corridor (figure 13.3).

It would have taken most of the Ice Age for there to be enough snow and ice piled up on the land to expose the shallow Bering Strait and shelf for man to walk over to Alaska. This is assuming the current depth of the Bering Strait. There would have been only a narrow window of opportunity to walk by foot into Alaska. Such a time would have occurred near the end of the Ice Age when conditions became colder. Because many animals had already preceded man into North America, I lean toward the option that the Bering Strait was shallower early in the Ice Age and became exposed earlier. Then man and beast would have migrated into North America early in the Ice Age.

Most Native Americans traveled by land, but it is possible others migrated down the Pacific Coast. They could have built boats, crossed the Bering Strait, and floated along the coasts of Alaska and western British Columbia into Washington state and from there south and east. The waters of the Pacific Ocean would still be warm and the glaciers still would occupy the mountains of British Columbia this early in the Ice Age. Archeologists have uncovered a large ancient garbage dump mostly of fish bones on Heceta Island near Ketchikan, Alaska. A report in Science News6 states:

The animal remains show that these people were experienced in offshore fishing and made extensive use of water transportation. … [There was] a relatively mild coastal climate and access to abundant marine food sources would have greatly benefited maritime immigrants, compared with hunters crossing a bitterly cold [ice-free] corridor between massive sheets of ice.

This statement is within a uniformitarian Ice Age context. Within the post-Flood Ice Age model, the ice-free corridor along the east slopes of the Rocky Mountains would not be nearly as cold in the winter due to downslope chinook winds.

The corridor probably would still be open since it was still early or midway in the Ice Age when the first migrations occurred. Animals had used the corridor earlier, since they started their spread about a few hundred years before man. The corridor closed late in the Ice Age as ice sheets from British Columbia and central Canada merged, but there is evidence that the first people probably made it through before closure and not after. One piece of evidence for this lies with the Taber child, found in southern Alberta below 60 feet of glacial till and post-glacial debris.7 A number of archaeologists have disputed the pre-glacial implication of the Taber child,8 but its location indicates that it is pre-glacial.

The first Native Americans, called various names by archeologists, such as Clovis or Folsom man, would have had no difficulty spreading south into southern North America, Central America, and eventually into South America. The journey from the Tigris-Euphrates Rivers to the southern tip of South America did not need to be a grueling journey, as some have envisioned,9 nor did it need to take a long time. If the tribes were nomadic hunters and they averaged two miles a day for only four of the warmest months, they would move at the rate of 250 miles (400 km) a year. The distance to the southern tip of South America is about 15,000 miles (24,000 km). At the rate of 250 miles (400 km) each summer, the people could have made the journey in only 60 years.

Sixty years is a crude back-of-the-envelope calculation to estimate the minimum time it would take to reach South America. The actual migration would likely have been more complicated and slower. Migration could have happened in spurts. Some tribes could have settled for a while in a location before moving on. We know some tribes did settle along the route, such as the Eskimos. Why would the more wandering tribes keep moving? There are many possible reasons, already alluded to before. Some could have simply possessed wanderlust and traveled for the same reason people climb a mountain — because it is there. Others could have been forced to move due to human conflicts of various sorts. It could have been the younger generation spreading outward into more promising territory away from their more settled elders. The tribes could have thought hunting would be better farther along, just like the saying “the grass is greener on the other side of the mountain.” Regardless, it need not take much time for people, as well as animals, to populate North and South America.

Was There a Purpose to the Ice Age?

Some may wonder whether there was a God -ordained purpose for the Ice Age. In other words, did God cause the Ice Age that would have some benefit for man? Or was the Ice Age simply a climatic consequence of the Genesis flood?

We know the Flood had a purpose. It was to destroy the wickedness of man and start over because “… the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually ” ( Gen. 6:5 NASB). That was an extremely bleak situation, and God was forced to take drastic action. The confusion of languages at the Tower of Babel also had a purpose. It was a judgment from God with the goal of causing man to finally fill the earth after the Flood. I also believe that God could see where such an ungodly, idolatrous union of people would lead down the road, and it was not good. Any number of evil results could have happened. Many other biblical events can be understood as “coming from God ” to fulfill His purpose. What about the Ice Age?

It is difficult to conclude one way or other whether the Ice Age had a purpose for man. The Ice Age is not mentioned in the Bible it is a climatic deduction from the biblical event of the Flood. One could think that if such a great event as the Ice Age had a purpose, God would have mentioned it. However, the Bible was practically all written after the ice melted. The Book of Job is probably the only book written during the Ice Age. Job does mention snow and ice, but he could have observed such features during winter. There are also events not mentioned in the Bible that have a purpose for man. Furthermore, the Ice Age occurred in the far north or in the mountains, far from contact with most people. Therefore, the Ice Age would produce little harm for mankind.

There are two purposes I would like to suggest. Ice sheets and glaciers grind up the rock to silt size. This silt is called rock flour. While the Ice Age was ending, this rock flour would have been blown all over the world by the strong, dry storms during deglaciation. There is even much dust in the Ice Age portion of the Greenland and Antarctica ice sheets. We will visit this topic more when I get back to the woolly mammoth. The interesting aspect of this wind-blown silt is that it is a very rich soil. A number of places in the world where the wind-blown silt is especially thick are super agricultural areas. These areas include the Midwest of the United States, the Ukraine, and large areas of China.

Another possible purpose for the Ice Age could have been to aid the repopulating of the earth, as described in this chapter. Mild winters and cool summers, the characteristic of the early and mid Ice Age, would have helped people to migrate across the Sahara Desert, which was much cooler and wetter, and into central and southern Africa. Such a climate would have aided man and beasts to migrate into Siberia and pass into North America. On the other hand, mild winters and cooler summers with more precipitation would have made the Tigris-Euphrates area a much more ideal location to live than today. Maybe this is the reason people settled there and did not want to leave.

Are There Missing Links Between Man and Apes?

If man ascended from the apes or an ape-like creature over several million years, a multitude of fossil links should be found. This transition was theorized to have occurred during the time of the Ice Age — possibly even caused by the Ice Age as some scientists postulate. Why people evolved, but not animals, at this time is an obvious contradiction to evolutionary theory. Paleoanthropologists, as missing link hunters are called, have combed the world for over 100 years expending huge amounts of time and money in their search for the missing links. Indeed, they have found a few candidates, but the number is rather small, and the interpretation of the fossil scraps is open to debate. Every paleoanthropologist seems to have his own interpretation as to how the bones should be arranged.

As a result of their enthusiasm and intense competition to find the missing link, paleoanthropologists have run into a great deal of trouble. Neanderthal man, early on, was seized as the missing link, but experts later realized that their own bias created this link. Neanderthal man is just a variety of man.

Exaggerated missing link claims have even been made on the basis of one tooth. The “Nebraska man” found in Nebraska in 1922 ended up being a pig’s tooth.

Fraud was easy to foist on these desperate fossil-man hunters. The so-called Piltdown man, despite obvious clues, fooled all of the leading palaeontologists in the early and mid 20th century. This “missing link” ended up being the jaw of an ape connected to the braincase of a man.

The most recent candidates for missing link status have lasted a little longer, but amidst controversy. Ramapithicus, based on scraps of teeth and jaws, was thought to be the first missing link between man and apes. However, more material has been found. It ended up being an extinct ape. The original analysis of its missing link status was once again found to be loaded with bias.

Australopithicus is the next in line. It can be coined, “Mr. Missing Link.” There are now a variety of such creatures in this group, including Lucy, found by Donald Johanson in Ethiopia.10 It is even claimed Lucy walked upright like humans. Most of the scraps labeled Homo habilis would also fall into the category of Australopithicus. Paleoanthropologists emphasize their “human-like” characteristics and usually downplay their ape-like features. Based on a computer analysis of many parts of the available skeletons of Australopithicus, Charles Oxnard11 categorized it as a unique ape, not in the line between apes and man. Of course, one would expect unique features with an extinct animal because that is part of the definition of being extinct.

Australopithicus is overwhelmingly apish. It has the brain size of an ape, its skull looks like an ape, and it is questionable that it walked upright, according to Sir Solly Zuckerman,12 one of the leading evolutionary experts on this fossil during the middle of the 20th century. Just recently, an analysis of the elbow area of Lucy and one other Australopithicus fossil revealed the bones of a knuckle walker, comparable to some living apes.13 Unfortunately, in their desire to keep the missing link status of Australopithicus, paleoanthropologists have relegated this new evidence as a throwback from a previous ancestor, claiming that the knuckle-walking ability was not used.

Sir Solly Zuckerman14, waxing philosophical about this entire enterprise of attempting to find the missing link, laments:

As I have already implied, students of fossil primates have not been distinguished for caution when working within the logical constraints of their subject. The record is so astonishing that it is legitimate to ask whether much science is yet to be found in this field at all. … So much glamour still attaches to the theme of the missing-link, and to man’s relationship with the animal world, that it may always be difficult to exorcise from the comparative study of Primates, living and fossil, the kind of myths which the unaided eye is able to conjure out of a well of wishful thinking.

The last candidate for missing link status is Homo erectus. This designation includes a fair variety of fossils, some of which are questionable. Early members of the category include the equivocal Java man and Peking man. Since this time, many fossils of Homo erectus have been unearthed. As it turns out, Homo erectus is only a little different than Neanderthal man. The main difference is that Homo erectus generally had a smaller stature and brain size, but still within the normal range of man. And just like Neanderthal man, modern people and mixed types lived in the same region at the same time. There is only one conclusion that can be drawn and that is Homo erectus was a breed of man, as documented extensively in Marvin Lubenow’s book Bones of Contention.15


Watch the video: The Last Deglaciation in Europe: Every year (December 2022).