HUMANPAST.NET

Environment                  9,000 BC
Africa
Southwest Asia
Egypt
Indus Valley
China
Europe
South America
Mesoamerica
North America
Other

In General

 And let's not forget that the earth by this time - 8000 years ago - has already suffered the consequences of 7000 years of intense volcanism, 7000 years of rising sea-levels and sudden and unpredictable marine floods, 7000 years of continental shelves, land-bridges and islands vanishing beneath the waves, and 7000 years of spectacular climatic instability. Indeed, the palaeo-climatological record testifies to all of the following - and much more - between 15,000 and 8,000 years ago: cold oceans, high winds, mountains of dust in the atmosphere and wildly unpredictable temperature shifts. (124)

Evidence of a supernova explosion in the form of aluminum 22 (along with other scientific and mythological evidence) found in concentration at the edge of our solar system helped Allan and Delair conclude that a stellar blast probably caused the massive destruction. Iron ore in the earth from 11,000 years ago, its magnetic polarity violently reversed, also testifies to a powerful, extraterrestrial encounter with a magnetically powerful agent at the same time period. (55)

 

Romuald Schild of the Polish Academy of Sciences cites an abrupt warming that took place in the northern Atlantic at around 12,700 years ago, stopped and equally abruptly went into reverse 10,800 years ago - when there was a sudden 800-year plunge to almost full glacial temperatures - then turned again to another episode of abrupt warming about 10,000 years ago. Robert Schoch reports that the bulk of the first warming- 'approximately 27 degrees Farenheit, a massive increase' - occurred after 11,700 years ago: Remarkably, the ice-core data suggests that half of the temperature change, in the neighbourhood of 14 degrees Farenheit, occurred in less than 15 years centering around 9645 BC. That's a bigger temperature increase, and faster, than the scariest doomsday scenario about global warming in the twenty-first century. It also happens to coincide, almost exactly, with Plato's date of around 11,600 years ago for the sinking of Atlantis, when, the reader will recall, 'There were earthquakes and floods of extraordinary violence, and in a single dreadful day and night ... the island of Atlantis was ... swallowed up by the sea and vanished.' (124)

During the same 10,000-year epoch in which the ice melted and global sea-level rose by 120 metres - roughly from 17,000 down to 7000 years ago - our planet also experienced dramatically increased volcanism, dramatically increased frequency and magnitude of earthquakes, and a dramatically unstable climate that seesawed rapidly and unpredictably between extremes. (124)

J. B. Delair's thoughts about why Earth's axis must have tilted 11,500 years ago from his "Planet in Crisis" article are next. The most immediately striking image of the Earth is that it rotates on an axis inclined at 23 1/2 degrees from the vertical. Its orbit is not a perfect circle and it is not strictly concentric with the Sun. Earth's axis of rotation does not coincide with its magnetic axis. This is also apparently connected with Earth's variable rotation, which fluctuates over a 10-year period. While following its orbit, Earth also oscillates cyclically: the "Chandler Wobble," with a cycle of 14 months. This wobble is also associated with viscosity at the Earth's Core, so it is an intimate part of Earth's present internal mechanism. Because the Earth ought, theoretically, to rotate on a vertical axis and may actually have done so in the geologically recent past, these details suggest a planet which, in not very remote times, has been seriously disturbed. If true, these "ill-fitting ter­ restrial cogs" [i.e., Earth's inner core rotates significantly faster than the rest of the planet], which appear to function only through the presence and action of inner-Earth viscosity, may be regarded as abnormalities. Given these details and the inner Core's higher rotational speed [four or five hundred years for one complete turn by the inner Core], its surface irregularities must be in continuously varying opposition to those of the slower moving Mantle's inner boundary. The plastic material of the intervening outer Core must therefore undergo displacement as the distances between the opposing irregularities alter. Continuous compression and release of this material must occur as the outcome of such differential rotation. Why does the inner Core rotate faster than the rest of the planet and why doesn't the inclination of its axis coincide with that of Earth as a whole (the different locations of the geographic and magnetic poles)? It strains credulity to suppose that any Earth-like planet, undisturbed by external influences for millions of years, could have naturally acquired, unaided, a tilted axis, an offset magnetic field, variable rotation, or a Chandler Wobble. (129)

...Earth's variable rotation... fluctuates over a 10-year period. While following its orbit, Earth also oscillates cyclically: the "Chandler Wobble," with a cycle of 14 months. This wobble is also associated with viscosity at the Earth's Core. So it is an intimate part of Earth's present internal mechanism. Because the Earth ought, theoretically, to rotate on a vertical axis and may actually have done so in the geologically recent past, these details suggest a planet which, in not very remote times, has been seriously disturbed. If true, these "ill-fitting ter­ restrial cogs" [i.e., Earth's inner core rotates significantly faster than the rest of the planet], which appear to function only through the presence and action of inner-Earth viscosity, may be regarded as abnormalities. Yet a number of these features, including axial inclinations and eccentric orbital paths, are shared by several of Earth's planetary neighbors, so are the terrestrial equivalents really "normal" ones? The evidence suggests otherwise. A selection of this evidence and its pan-solar ramifications, has been discussed by Allan and Delair, "There ought to be no reason why any Earth-like planet undisturbed for untold ages should not have a vertically positioned axis. This would unify the locations of the geographical and magnetic poles, ensure equal daylight hours in all latitudes and virtually eliminate the seasons. There would be no necessity for various subcrustal layers to function differentially and the present rheological mechanism would not be required. However, an equatorial bulge would remain as an essential stabilising feature and the retention of a non-circular and non-concentric orbit would probably still cause small "seasonal" climatic differences when Earth was nearer or further from the Sun. What follows next in "Planet in Crisis" is a few comments about the implications of these abnormalities, and then Delair describes the Holocene Earth changes. He notes that these relatively recent global Earth changes must be the result of other forces operating deep within Earth, and he speculates on the "cause or causes of the Holocene cluster of catastrophes." (129)

Most geoscientists who have studied this broadly agree that any event or series of events resulting in characteristics as profound as these would almost certainly have to involve some influential outside agency. In other words Earth would need to be subjected to some powerful extraterrestrial force - a force severe enough to rupture its previous internal mechanism without actually destroying it. Down the centuries precisely such a source has been repeatedly advocated to account for traditionally catastrophic events like Noah's Deluge, the loss of a primaeval Golden Age, the advent and also the demise of the Ice Age, the sudden refrigeration of the Siberian/Alaskan mammoth fauna and even the foundering of legendary realms such as Atlantis, Lyonesse, etc. After apparently adversely affecting many of the Sun's outer planets, the postulated cosmic visitor was seemingly able to temporarily retard the rotation of Earth's Mantle and lithosphere but could not halt the rotation of the inner Core, due to the viscosity of the outer Core. As a consequence of this disruption, Earth's thermal and electromagnetic levels increased enormously, with all kinds of unwelcome effects. Among these appear to have been an axial slewing of the Mantle and crust to an inclination differing from that of the solid inner Core. Indeed, the latter may itself have been wrenched, gravitationally, within the liquid outer Core to an off-centre position, causing the Earth to yaw or tremble (or both), as some traditions recalling the events actually state. Such movements were only possible because of the viscosity of the outer Core. It is also probable that the cosmic assailant pulled the entire Earth over to its present inclination, since any former normal planetary regime must have developed over a more vertical axis. (129)

                                                                                                         MOST RECENT DATE
COMMON NAME                              GENUS                                   BEFORE PRESENT

CHEETAH                                           Acinonyx                                           17,000
PECCARY                                           Platygonus                                         13,000
SHORT-FACED BEAR                       Arctodus                                            12,600
PRONGHORN                                    Stockoceros                                       11,300
WOODLAND MUSK OX                  Symbos                                               11,100
MAMMOTH                                       Mammuthus                                         10,500
MASTODON                                      Mammut                                              10,400
LION                                                   Panthera                                              10,400
HORSE                                                Equus                                                  10,400
CAMEL                                               Camelops                                            10,300
STAG-MOOSE                                   Cervalces                                             10,200
GIANT BEAVER                                 Castoroides                                          10,200
GIANT GROUND SLOTH                  Glossotherium                                        9,800
SABERTOOTH                                    Smilodon                                               9,400
TAPIR                                                   Tapirus                                                  9,400
                                  
In this list, as in more complete ones, the apparent extinction dates cluster between 11,000 and 9,500 years ago. This was the time that the climate, local weather, and ecosystems of North America were undergoing a spectacularly rapid upheaval. It is also the time when other creatures that could also be called charismatic megafauna thrived - the hunters of the Clovis culture and the ensuing Folsom culture.   (130)

The Younger Dryas ended 11,400 years ago, as abruptly as it had begun. Warmth and rain softened the harshness of the surrounding countryside, and over a period of a few hundred years the landscape was revitalized as game and the wild fruits, nuts, and grasses returned. People began to move away from the oases, taking with them the newly acquired skill of farming. They spread into Anatolia, the Levant, and northern Mesopotamia, flourishing in the valleys that were well watered again and along the shores of lakes. (131)

One of the great unknowns of any analysis of human social development during the warm conditions after the Younger Dryas is just how much evidence has been swept away by the rise in sea levels. If, as seems likely, some of the most stable and best-fed communities would have quickly developed close to seashores, any evidence of their existence will have long gone. The simple fact of the matter is that this rise in sea levels drowned or washed away evidence of nearly all earlier coastal adaptation everywhere around the world. (145)

c. 9,500 - 9000 BC Geological and climatic upheavals accompany the cessation of the Ice Age, including severe volcanic activity and mass flooding; diaspora of Egypt's elder culture to Asia Minor and Kurdistan. Construction of underground cities in Cappadocia to escape the final excesses of the Ice Age. (149)

In the New World...more than seventy genera of large mammals became extinct between 15,000 BC and 8000 BC, including all North American members of seven families, and one complete order, the Proboscidea. These staggering losses, involving the violent obliteration of more than forty million animals, were not spread out evenly over the whole period; on the contrary, the vast majority of the extinctions occurred in just two thousand years, between 11,000 BC and 9000 BC. To put this in perspective, during the previous 300,000 years only about twenty genera had disappeared. (152)

Africa

The climatic record is, however, unequivocal: for most of the time between around 14 kya and 5 kya the Sahara experienced a monsoonal climate. The region had considerably greater rainfall than now and much of the land had permanent vegetation. (145)

Southwest Asia

 Between 13,000 BC and 4000 BC sea levels rose significantly as ice sheets melted. Meteorologists suggest that there was increased rainfall in the Near East in this era and botanists point to increased plant life. (68)

The steadily rising sea levels might have had a more profound effect on coastal communities where large areas were inundated in fits and starts. For example, this could have happened in the Persian Gulf. This enclosed sea goes no deeper than 100 m, and much of the seabed is only about 40 m below the present-day surface. When sea levels were 120 m lower the gulf would have been dry land 20 kya, and the ancestral river system of the Tigris and Euphrates flowed through the deepest part of the gulf, a canyon cut by the river waters to the Indian Ocean. The postglacial rise in sea level inundated the floor of the gulf between 15 and 6 kya. The sea advanced more than 1000 km, forcing any people living there to abandon their settlements. (145)

The climatic record is, however, unequivocal: for most of the time between around 14 kya and 5 kya the Sahara experienced a monsoonal climate. The region had considerably greater rainfall than now and much of the land had permanent vegetation. (145)

...the Catal Huyuk culture appeared suddenly on the Konya plain amid a backdrop of very unstable climatic conditions. For example, there is good evidence to suggest that Anatolia was plunged into a mini ice age, c. 8850-8300 BC, following a relatively mild period after the recession of the last Ice Age proper, c. 9500-9000 BC. This glacial relapse would have brought with it intensely long periods of snow, ice and freezing conditions, which would have forced indigenous populations to seek refuge in cave shelters in an attempt to survive on a day-to-day basis. This was significant, for the Catal Huyuk folk's construction of its mostly sub-surface shrines and houses, all huddled together without exterior doors or windows, was clear evidence that they had evolved from a race that had once experienced a subterranean lifestyle...(149)

c. 9,500 - 9000 BC Geological and climatic upheavals accompany the cessation of the Ice Age, including severe volcanic activity and mass flooding; diaspora of Egypt's elder culture to Asia Minor and Kurdistan. Construction of underground cities in Cappadocia to escape the final excesses of the Ice Age. (149)

Egypt

Evidence of a supernova explosion in the form of aluminum 22 (along with other scientific and mythological evidence) found in concentration at the edge of our solar system helped Allan and Delair conclude that a stellar blast probably caused the massive destruction. Iron ore in the earth from 11,000 years ago, its magnetic polarity violently reversed, also testifies to a powerful, extraterrestrial encounter with a magnetically powerful agent at the same time period. (55)

During the latter part of the last ice age, between 20,000 and 10,000 years ago, the eastern Sahara was uninhabited and extremely arid. (70)

Some records indicate that the onset of rains began at Bir Kiseiba around 10,000 BC, but in many other areas, including Abu Ballas in south-central Egypt, they came a thousand years later. Nonetheless, by 7500 BC, rising water tables were able to support lakes in the Sudan. Archaeologists have discovered sediments from these ancient lakes that include sand, mud, freshwater carbonates, sulfate layers, salts, and plant fossils. (70)

The climatic record is, however, unequivocal: for most of the time between around 14 kya and 5 kya the Sahara experienced a monsoonal climate. The region had considerably greater rainfall than now and much of the land had permanent vegetation. (145)

Indus Valley

 The Nile Valley and Delta are among the richest agricultural niches in the world, and thus the farming way of life may seem to be the "natural" state of human habitation there, but in fact farming came to Egypt only relatively late. For many millennia before farming appeared in Egypt, people lived there simply by hunting, fishing, and gathering the area’s rich profusion of indigenous plants and animals. Today the Nile Valley looks like a rather poor place to try to make a living as a hunter-forager, because the narrow Nile floodplain runs through one of the driest deserts on earth, the Sahara; but before about 10,000 years ago rainfall made the deserts bloom for many millennia. In this Pleistocene epoch the Nile itself teamed with fish and wildfowl, and areas that are now deserts along the Nile were for long periods rich grasslands that supported wild cows, gazelles, and many other large animals which, in turn supported ancient Egyptian hunter-foragers. This centuries-old way of life began to fade away about 10,000 years ago. As the great ice sheets in temperate latitudes shrank, the African rainfall patterns shifted, and the deserts replaced grasslands across much of North Africa. And as these deserts expanded, almost all human life in Egypt was concentrated in the Nile Valley and Delta. (47)

...I was familiar with the south Indian traditions to which he was referring. These describe extensive lands, submerged about 11,000 years ago, that had once existed in the Indian Ocean to the south of the present Cape Comorin. The name of these lost lands was Kumari Kandam. At the time of their inundation, the traditions say, they had been the home of a high civilization that had even boasted an 'Academy' of advanced learning where philosophy and literature were cultivated. (124)

A protected valley ... a great river ... lakes ... fertile soils ... bountiful rainfall ... The palaeo-climatological literature left me with the distinct impression that the Gulf around 10,000 or 12,000 years ago could have been a very unusual place ... indeed a secret garden blessed with an ideal climate, offering nearly optimum conditions for the emergence of a civilization. (124)

The northern part of the Gulf remains dry at this time, as does a vast area south of the palaeo-Gulf, although this plain contains numerous shallow topographic depressions. Until about 11,000 BP the northern part of the Persian Gulf floor would have been a relatively flat but narrow plain, hemmed in between the palaeo-Gulf and the southern foothills of the Zagros mountains forming the present coastline. (124)

With its dominant motif of a once much larger Dravidian homeland, the opening of the Kumari Kandam flood myth is set in remote prehistory between 12,000 and 10,000 years ago. The work of Glenn Milne and other inundation specialists confirms that between 12,000 and 10,000 years ago India's Dravidian peninsula and its outlying islands would indeed have been far larger than they are today - but were in the process of being swallowed up by the rising seas at the end of the Ice Age. (124)

\The Younger Dryas ended 11,400 years ago, as abruptly as it had begun. Warmth and rain softened the harshness of the surrounding countryside, and over a period of a few hundred years the landscape was revitalized as game and the wild fruits, nuts, and grasses returned. People began to move away from the oases, taking with them the newly acquired skill of farming. They spread into Anatolia, the Levant, and northern Mesopotamia, flourishing in the valleys that were well watered again and along the shores of lakes. (131)

China

  …for some thousands of years after the end of the Pleistocene at about 12,000 years ago, China's climate was somewhat warmer and moister than it is today, and much of the country was probably heavily forested, from the temperate forests of the north to the jungles in the south. (49)

Europe

 Like the paleogeographers at Franchthi Cave, Plato's Egyptian priest also saw the Greece of Solon's day as a "mere remnant" (Critias 111) of her former size--a remarkable coincidence in itself--but the priest blamed deluge, earthquake, and subsequent erosion: You are left, as with little islands, with something rather like the skeleton of a body wasted by disease; the rich, soft soil has all run away leaving the land nothing but skin and bone. But in those days the damage had not taken place; the hills had high crests, the rocky plain of Phelleus was covered with rich soil. ... (Critias 111) If this disaster were of truly the magnitude claimed by the priest, the survival even of Franchthi Cave, the only active site known to Greek archaeology during that 9000 to 6000 BC "gap,” would be somewhat miraculous. (115)

At peak moments of the meltdown any hypothetical civilizations living around the edges of partially enclosed seas that served as drainage areas for the great ice-sheets could have suffered disproportionately large and rapid change in sea-level. In a sophisticated and original argument, LaViolette draws particular attention to the Mediterranean: Glacial meltwater [from the nearby European ice-sheets] would have entered the Mediterranean much more rapidly than it could escape through the Straits of Gibraltar, and, as a result, the temporary rise in Mediterranean sea-level would have been much greater than in the surrounding oceans ... [Such meltwater surges] could have temporarily raised the Mediterranean by some 60 meters, flooding all coast civilizations. (124)

By 10,600 years ago the separation of Malta, Comino and Gozo had occurred and the islands were virtually indistinguishable from their modern appearance. (124)

The Younger Dryas ended 11,400 years ago, as abruptly as it had begun. Warmth and rain softened the harshness of the surrounding countryside, and over a period of a few hundred years the landscape was revitalized as game and the wild fruits, nuts, and grasses returned. People began to move away from the oases, taking with them the newly acquired skill of farming. They spread into Anatolia, the Levant, and northern Mesopotamia, flourishing in the valleys that were well watered again and along the shores of lakes. (131)

In 1931 a trawler working in the southern North Sea dredged up a lump of peat containing an exquisitely crafted spearhead made from a deer's antler. Dated as being nearly 14 kyr old, this artefact was dramatic evidence of how early humans exploited the broad expanses of land that had been exposed during the last ice age, and were only reclaimed by the sea some 7 kya. When this spearhead was buried, dense oak forests had yet to spread into the region, known to archaeologists as 'Doggerland', where now the sea is over 30m deep. This famous find emphasises that the rise in sea level between about 15 and 5 kya covered up large areas of habitable land that had been exploited by humans and made movement around the continental margins easier. (145)

The northern regions of Alaska and Siberia appear to have been the worst hit by the murderous upheavals between 13,000 and 11,000 years ago. In a great swathe of death around the edge of the Arctic Circle the remains of uncountable numbers oflarge animals have been found - including many carcases with the flesh still intact, and astonishing quantities of perfectly preserved mammoth tusks. The Alaskan muck in which the remains are embedded is like a fine, dark- grey sand. Frozen solid within this mass, in the words of Professor Hibben of the University of New Mexico: lie the twisted parts of animals and trees intermingled with lenses of ice and layers of peat and mosses...Bison, horses, wolves, bears, lions...Whole herds of animals were apparently killed together, overcome by some common power...Such piles of bodies of animals or men simply do not occur by any ordinary natural means...' At various levels stone artefacts have been found 'frozen in situ at great depths, and in association with Ice Age fauna, which confirms that men were contemporary with extinct animals in Alaska'. (152)

Researchers have confirmed that of the thirty-four animal species living in Siberia prior to the catastrophes of the eleventh millennium BC - including Ossip's mammoth, giant deer, cave hyena and cave lions - no less than twenty-eight were adapted only to temperate conditions.' In this context, one of the most puzzling aspects of the extinctions, which runs quite contrary to what today's geographical and climatic conditions lead us to expect, is that the farther north one goes, the more the mammoth and other remains increase in number. Indeed some of the New Siberian Islands, well within the Arctic Circle, were described by the explorers who first discovered them as being made up almost entirely of mammoth bones and tusks. The only logical conclusion, as the nineteenth-century French zoologist Georges Cuvier put it, is that 'this eternal frost did not previously exist in those parts in which the animals were frozen, for they could not have survived in such a temperature. The same instant that these creatures were bereft of life, the country which they inhabited became frozen. (152)

9000 BC Cold snap of Loch Lomond Stadial (160)

South America

 The spread of human hunting and gathering societies over the New World after 12,000 years ago, at the end of the last glacial period, coincides with the extinction of many animal species, and by about 10,000 years ago, all or most of the mammoths, mastodons, long-horned bison, tapirs, horses, giant ground sloths, dire wolves, camels, and many other creatures had disappeared. Extinction is, of course, a natural evolutionary development and can be accounted for by known biological processes. But the number of animal species that became extinct in the New World and their apparently rapid rate of extinction has led some to conclude that human hunters forced many New World animals into extinction shortly after the Pleistocene. We might also note that there is no archeological evidence that the hunting practices most likely to lead to animal extinctions, such as drives and jumps, were ever used during the period, some 10,000 to 8,000 years ago, when most of the larger species became extinct.(26)

A wet period followed [at Lake Titicaca] between 13,000 and 11,000 years ago. (69)

A great deal of prehistoric archaeological work has been done in South America in the latter part of the twentieth century. Large numbers of sites have been excavated, and it has become clear that by about 11,000 years ago people had made their way to most parts of the South American continent and had developed a variety of ways of making a living in response to the variety of landscapes they found themselves in. (130)

Mesoamerica

 The spread of human hunting and gathering societies over the New World after 12,000 years ago, at the end of the last glacial period, coincides with the extinction of many animal species, and by about 10,000 years ago, all or most of the mammoths, mastodons, long-horned bison, tapirs, horses, giant ground sloths, dire wolves, camels, and many other creatures had disappeared. Extinction is, of course, a natural evolutionary development and can be accounted for by known biological processes. But the number of animal species that became extinct in the New World and their apparently rapid rate of extinction has led some to conclude that human hunters forced many New World animals into extinction shortly after the Pleistocene. We might also note that there is no archeological evidence that the hunting practices most likely to lead to animal extinctions, such as drives and jumps, were ever used during the period, some 10,000 to 8,000 years ago, when most of the larger species became extinct.(26)

North America

 The spread of human hunting and gathering societies over the New World after 12,000 years ago, at the end of the last glacial period, coincides with the extinction of many animal species, and by about 10,000 years ago, all or most of the mammoths, mastodons, long-horned bison, tapirs, horses, giant ground sloths, dire wolves, camels, and many other creatures had disappeared. Extinction is, of course, a natural evolutionary development and can be accounted for by known biological processes. But the number of animal species that became extinct in the New World and their apparently rapid rate of extinction has led some to conclude that human hunters forced many New World animals into extinction shortly after the Pleistocene. We might also note that there is no archeological evidence that the hunting practices most likely to lead to animal extinctions, such as drives and jumps, were ever used during the period, some 10,000 to 8,000 years ago, when most of the larger species became extinct.(26)

...the drumlins and other 'hummocky' landforms strewn across Canada are evidence of continental floods of biblical proportions - floods of water in some cases hundreds of metres high - that roared out from beneath the ice-caps during the last deglaciation, destroying or mangling everything in their path. Shaw explicitly suggests that many elements of the universal myth of the deluge may be explained by such floods pouring down off the land - intimately linked, as they were, to the episodes of sudden and ferocious sea-level rise that took place between 15,000 and 8000 years ago. I think it is worth re-emphasizing Shaw's figures, and their implications. He is talking about turbulent, energetic floods 20 metres deep flowing in vortices at high speed and pressure, under the main ice-sheets, across fronts up to 160 kilometres wide. Only floods on such a scale and of such violence could have sculpted the drumlin-fields and hummocky terrain and tortured pitted scablands of Canada and the United States and carved out other remarkable features such as the extremely large through valleys - including those containing the Finger Lakes - that lie to the south of drumlin-fields in northern New York State. 'Volumes of water required to sustain such floods', observes Shaw, 'would have been of the order of one million cubic kilometres equivalent to a rise of several metres in sea-level over a matter of weeks. (124)

During the Clovis era, which began 11,500 years ago and continued for a few hundred years thereafter, the living things of North America were undergoing what was one of the more traumatic times in the history of the earth. For people living here at the time, the world may well have seemed an unstable place. Familiar animals might suddenly disappear, seeking their favored food, which had also gone somewhere else. What might have been a good place for your parents might change into something that would not support you. People would have been on the move. One result was a great many more species going extinct, not unlike what had happened in all the previous interstadials. These ecological changes were driven, of course, by the relatively rapid climate change that brought on the relatively rapid disintegration of the glacial ice: by 7,000 years ago, the ice was about what it is today in extent and location. The particularly important results of the overall climate change under way were the reestablishment of four-season continental climates and the increase in seasonal extremes - colder winters, hotter summers - which unquestionably stressed the creatures that had adapted to somewhat more consistent year-round conditions. There's only so much cold a southern white pine can take, for example, and only so much summer heat a blue spruce can live through. In this chaotic late Pleistocene-early Holocene period, the limits of everyone and everything were being tested. Creatures needed to readjust to new ranges. Among mammals, size transformation proved a more salutary strategy than the conservative one of simply sweating it out: the 350-pound beaver gave way to a successor more like today's, for example, smaller in size and behaviorally more clever. Changing patterns of precipitation (and evaporation) would have created similar challenges. New habitats were being created in virtually every part of North America, a shifting kaleidoscope of ecosystems that meant tremendous change for any creatures present, including humans.(130)

Among the largest catastrophic meltwater pulses from Lake Agassiz into the North Atlantic were those at 12.9 kya (9500k cu. m), 11.3 kya (9300k cu. m), and 8.2 kya (163000k cu. m). These outbursts coincide with the start of the Younger Dryas, the Preboreal Oscillation, and the 8.2 kya event, suggesting that outbursts from Lake Agassiz may have repeatedly influenced hemispheric climate by affecting the circulation of the North Atlantic. This, in turn, altered the temperature of the surface of much of the northern North Atlantic, and with it the climate of much of the northern hemisphere. (145)

The northern regions of Alaska and Siberia appear to have been the worst hit by the murderous upheavals between 13,000 and 11,000 years ago. In a great swathe of death around the edge of the Arctic Circle the remains of uncountable numbers oflarge animals have been found - including many carcases with the flesh still intact, and astonishing quantities of perfectly preserved mammoth tusks. The Alaskan muck in which the remains are embedded is like a fine, dark- grey sand. Frozen solid within this mass, in the words of Professor Hibben of the University of New Mexico: lie the twisted parts of animals and trees intermingled with lenses of ice and layers of peat and mosses...Bison, horses, wolves, bears, lions...Whole herds of animals were apparently killed together, overcome by some common power...Such piles of bodies of animals or men simply do not occur by any ordinary natural means...' At various levels stone artefacts have been found 'frozen in situ at great depths, and in association with Ice Age fauna, which confirms that men were contemporary with extinct animals in Alaska'. (152)

There is a remarkable amount of evidence of excessive volcanism during the decline of the Wisconsin ice cap. Far to the south of the frozen Alaskan mucks, thousands of prehistoric animals and plants were mired, all at once, in the famous La Brea tar pits of Los Angeles. Among the creatures unearthed were bison, horses, camels, sloths, mammoths, mastodons and at least seven hundred sabre-toothed tigers. A disarticulated human skeleton was also found, completely enveloped in bitumen, mingled with the bones of an extinct species of vulture. In general, the La Brea remains ('broken, mashed, contorted, and mixed in a most heterogeneous mass') speak eloquently of a sudden and dreadful volcanic cataclysm. The bulk of the animal extinctions took place between 11,000 BC and 9000 BC when there were violent and unexplained fluctuations of climate. (152)

Other

 Around modern Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, and stretching as far north as Japan, lay the endless plains of 'Sunda Land', a fully fledged antediluvian continent. It was submerged very rapidly some time between 14,000 and 11,000 years ago. (124)

Some 260 million years ago, during the Permian period, deciduous trees adapted to a warm climate grew in Antarctica. ...Here at the southernmost known mountain in the world, - scarcely two hundred miles from the South Pole, was found conclusive evidence that the climate of Antarctica was once temperate or even sub-tropical. ...sedimentary cores collected from the bottom of the Ross Sea by one of the Byrd Antarctic Expeditions provide conclusive evidence that 'great rivers, carrying down fine well grained sediments' did flow in this part of Antarctica until perhaps as late as 4000 BC. From 6000 to 15,000 years ago the sediment is fine-grained with the exception of one granule at about 12,000 years ago. This suggests an absence of ice from the area during that period, except perhaps for a stray iceberg 12,000 years ago. ...at one time the temperatures of the Arctic Ocean were similar to the contemporary temperatures of the Bay of Bengal or the Caribbean Sea. (152)