Other Mammals - Sounds Wild
Beringian Creatures


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Beringian creatures

Alaska wolves are more closely related to Siberian wolves than they are to wolves in Minnesota. That seems surprising, since Alaska is connected by land to the Lower 48, and divided from Asia by the Bering Sea. But that wasn't always the case.

Just a few thousand years ago, Alaska was separated from the rest of North America by vast continental glaciers, enormous ice sheets that blocked passage to the south. The Ice age continental glaciers contained so much water that sea levels world-wide were almost 300-feet lower than today. The Bering Sea was dry and Alaska and Asia formed a landscape known as Beringia, a great plain that stretched from Eastern Europe to the Yukon.

The famous, now extinct prehistoric animals like mastodons, mammoths, giant bears, and saber-tooth cats roamed this landscape, but there were other familiar animals present as well, animals that still live in Asia and Alaska - muskox, caribou, moose, wolves, brown bears, wolverines, ravens, and lemmings.

Two animals that live today can be thought of as Beringian creatures - the grey-headed chickadee and the Alaska blackfish - which are found only in Siberia and northern Alaska. Even more striking is that the Alaska Blackfish is also found in lakes on three islands in the Bering Sea -St. Lawrence, St. Matthew and Nunivak Islands - islands that would've been low hills on the Beringian landscape.