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Beringia Center

Introduction

Opened in 1997, the Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre is a facility designed to tell the story of Beringia. It began with the recognition that Beringia holds vital information to cultures, landscapes and environments of the past. In 1976, the National Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada designated "Beringia" as a theme of national significance. This theme is now finding expression in the Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre. Featuring dynamic new exhibits, the Centre seeks to introduce a world of woolly mammoths, Jefferson's ground sloths, scimitar cats, giant beavers, steppe tundra and North America's first people. It explores the discovery of fossils, frozen mummified remains and other paleontological and archaeological finds throughout the area. It will trace a history of a time long past that holds a key to many mysteries today. 

 

Scimitar Cat (Homotherium serum)

The scimitar cat was one of Beringia's most ferocious predators. The lion-sized meat-eater lived in most of Canada and the United States in the last part of the Ice Age. It preyed on large, thick-skinned plant-eaters, including mammoth and mastodon. Its long fangs were used to cut the throat of its prey. Scimitar cats had relatively flat feet compared to its descendants, like the lion or the cheetah. 

 

 

Therefore, these cats probably did not run as quickly as cats of today and they probably preferred quick, sudden attacks to kill their prey. This model gives an idea of what this cat would have looked like. The reconstruction, an "educated guess," is based on the colour of modern day lions and cougar skin tones. To date we have yet to find a frozen carcass of a scimitar cat, although many bones have been recovered.

 

Woolly Mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius)

      

This specimen, 4 meters high, 3.6 meters long, with tusks 2.4 meters long, is an exact replica of one of the largest mammoth skeletons ever found. The Mammoth steppe, rich in grasses and sage that supported the grazing giants, was the name given to the dry, cold tundra that existed during the Ice Age. The most recent North American mammoth fossils are about 12,000 years old. A dwarf version of the woolly mammoths survived on Wrangel Island, Siberia, until about 4,000 years ago. The woolly mammoth was Beringia’s most common Ice Age animal. It was about the size of a modern Asian elephant and weighed more than three tonnes. The reproduction featured here is based on a complete skeleton found in Wisconsin.

Mammoths are among the most important Ice Age animals in aboriginal stories. Accounts of attacks by mammoths, as well as trapping and killing these enormous beasts, are told by all Yukon First Nations.

 

North American Short-faced Bear Diorama

This giant short-faced bear has just chased two wolves away from their kill, a steppe bison calf. As the bear eats, the wolves wait, hoping to get back to their prey. The giant short-faced bear was the largest and perhaps the fiercest of the Ice Age land carnivores of North America. It appears to have specialized in scavenging, driving other predators away from their fresh kill.

 

 

Beringia Mini-diorama

This typical Ice Age scene shows many of the animals that lived in the Yukon and Alaska during the Ice Age. Press the buttons to highlight the individual species. Beringia was truly a land of Ice Age monsters. The biggest grazers and their most fearsome predators were far larger than any mammals that live in this area today. A surprising variety of animals lived here in ancient times, although not all of them inhabited Beringia at the same time. Beringia’s environment was extremely productive, despite the northern location and harsh climate. Mammoths, steppe bison and horses lived in the north throughout the Ice Age. Caribou evolved in Beringia and have lived in both North America and Asia for nearly 2 million years.

 

Bluefish Caves

This exhibit is a recreation of a major archaeological site in the northern Yukon, the most important site in North America. Evidence found in the caves in the 1970s and 80s indicates it was visited intermittently over the last 15,000 - 25,000 years. The exhibit shows First Nation hunters butchering a caribou.

 

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Copyright © 2007, Hanspeter Hochuli, Ennetburgen, Switzerland
last updated:  15.04.2008