Saturday, September 30, 2023

MY TURN: Mammoths and Extinct Megafaunas: Climate change or man

by JIM PEARL/Guest Opinion
| September 9, 2023 1:00 AM

Mammoths were not the only megafauna that went extinct at the end of the Great Ice Age (Pleistocene). Hundreds of large mammal species disappeared, including mastodons, woolly mammoths, woolly rhinoceros, Irish elk (giant deer), cave bears, cave lions, dire wolves, saber-tooth tigers, giant short-faced bears, camels (12 feet at shoulders), giant sloths, giant beavers (9 feet long), Teratorn birds (wingspan to 28 feet).

The Imperial mammoths reached 14 feet at the shoulders! Carthaginian General Hannibal (Punic Wars, 218 B.C.) would have really frightened the Romans if he had had these largest of “elephants!”

Perhaps 5 million mammoths are buried in wind-blown, silt-size sediment called loess in Siberia and “frozen muck” in Alaska. These paleowind deposits became ice-rich permafrost (soil below 32 degrees for at least two years). Some of these dust deposits are hundreds of feet thick and dwarf America’s Dust Bowl deposits of the 1930s (Oard, 2000).

Mammoths are found with dirty lungs filled with silt/dust. “Or who can pour out the bottles of heaven, when the dust hardens in clumps, and the clods cling together?” (Job 38: 37-38).

Seven percent of China is a loess plateau averaging over 90 feet in thickness. For thousands of years Chinese have carved homes in these deposits. The Palouse of Idaho and Washington is loess and is a major agricultural area.

At White Sands National Park, N.M., there are fossilized footprints of humans alongside Columbian mammoth and giant sloth tracks on the Ice-Age lake deposits! There are also dire wolf and American lion tracks.

Since 1901 at Rancho La Brea, Calif., about 4 million fossils, including one human, have been excavated out of the asphaltic (“tar”) sediments. Fossils include extinct Ice Age megafaunas — mammoth, mastodon, 4,000-plus dire wolves and 2,000 saber-tooth tigers — but also contemporary animals such as coyotes, mountain lions, black bears and raccoons.

Wrangel Island, in the Arctic Ocean, Russia may have had mammoths as recently as a few thousand years ago. Arctic fox, polar bears and lemmings now roam the island.

Mammoth bones are dredged up from the North Sea by trawler fishing nets. Once there was an ancient land bridge between Britain and Europe; just as there was the Bering land bridge between Asia and North America. At that time the oceans were about 300-400 feet lower than today, because continental Ice-Age glaciers stored up large amounts of water.

Canadian Native Americans have legends of mammoths or mastodons living as recently as 200 years ago in remote areas of Canada. They say, “the huge animal had a nose that acted like a hand!”

Authors like Albert Einstein’s friend Immanuel Velikovsky argue that the Earth had a catastrophic pole shift (“Earth in Upheaval,” 1955) and astronomical disruptions with asteroid impacts (“Worlds in Collision,” 1950). Charles Darwin’s friend lawyer Sir Charles Lyell argued that Earth’s processes are slow, steady and constant (Uniformitarianism, “Principles of Geology,” 1830).

A Uniformitarian model has serious flaws. For example, two beautifully preserved extinct cave lion cub siblings found together in Siberia have radiocarbon ages differing by over 15,000 years! Paleoclimatologist Dr. Larry Vardiman and other scientists address carbon-14 problems in “Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth” (2 Volumes, 2000 and 2005).

Humans did hunt now-extinct megafaunas — spear points are found in remains — but climate change, with more seasonal extremes, is a much greater factor at the end of the Ice Age.

“From whose womb comes the ice? And the frost of heaven, who gives it birth? The waters harden like stone, and the surface of the deep is frozen.” (Job 38:29-30, 2,000 B.C.).

• • •

Jim Pearl, geologist, is a Hayden resident.

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