• Breathtaking autumn colors in Bering Land Bridge National Preserve

    Bering Land Bridge

    National Preserve Alaska

The Ice Age

Imagining the Ice Age
Imagine a time when men and women coexisted with woolly mammoths, saber-tooth cats, and giant short-faced bears.
NPS Photo
 

Alaska provided the gateway for many animals into a new world as they followed the Bering Land Bridge from Eurasia to Alaska and then traveled down to populate the Americas. Predators and prey lived side-by-side until changing climates forced many arctic-acclimated species into extinction.

You might be surprised to find that life on the tundra during the ice age was not as barren as it would seem. An abundance of prehistoric animals tramped throughout the landscape at this time and while few survived to walk with modern civilization, some continue to roam the tundra today. The unique features of the surviving mammals like muskox and caribou act as an ancient mirror reflecting the appearance of the curious creatures that did not survive past the Pleistocene.

Ice age animals such as woolly mammoths, steppe bison, American lions, and giant short-faced bears meant survival and life for Paleolithic humans, so it comes as no surprise that much of the prehistoric artwork we find today was dedicated to depicting this main form of sustenance. As we continue to find evidence of prehistoric human and animal life in Bering Land Bridge, we can begin to paint a clearer picture, ourselves, of what the past may have looked like.

Did You Know?

Two male musk oxen budding heads in the middle of the Kougarok Road in Nome, Alaska.

Muskox were once extinct on the Alaskan Seward Peninsula, but were reintroduced in 1970. They are now thriving on the Peninsula, even in the Bering Land Bridge National Preserve.