Ice Ages have always been a mystery to scientists. It’s a period of near-freezing global temperatures that often last millions of years. There were at least five major Ice Ages with approximately 12 periods of glacial expansion over the past one million years. Humans are believed to have developed significantly during the most recent period of glaciations to emerge as the dominant land animal. Here are some interesting Ice Age facts that you may not have known.
1. Age of giant animals
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Evolution of mammals had already started by the time the last Ice Age came around. It was the age of large oversized animals known as megafauna. The animals were furred and could survive freezing temperatures like that in Tibet. They turned the Ice Age era into their playground as other smaller cold-resistant species died away. Carnivores like short-faced bears, saber-toothed cats, and dire wolves were common. Rhinoceros may have had a shovel-like horn to remove snow.
2. Changed the earth’s surface
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An Ice Age causes massive changes to the earth’s surface. Enormous glaciers pick up soil and rocks and erode hills during their unhindered push. The weight depresses the earth and reshapes the land. Temperatures drop in areas near the ice cliffs and cold-weather plains are driven to the southern latitudes. The drastic drop in sea water level causes rivers to dig deep ravines and produce big inland lakes. Retreating glaciers, during the end of an Ice Age, leaves behind scattered ridges that are filled by melted water.
3. Lasted for millions of years
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A single Ice Age often lasts hundreds of millions of years. But there are usually two different phases in one age that alternate between themselves for multiple times. These phases are called “glacial” and “interglacial”.
4. Ice Age humans
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Homo-sapiens were not much hairy or huge in the Ice Age. But they managed to brave the chilly tundra. Life was difficult but they were inventive. According to some Ice Age facts, humans were hunter-gatherers and lived in clusters. They used dead animal fur as clothes, and buried meat in permafrost, the natural icebox. Tools for hunting were basic but they served the purpose. Arrowheads and stone knives were largely used. People used traps to nab and kill animals. Animals caught in the trap were attacked and mauled to death.
5. Louis Agassiz
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A founding father of American science, Louis Agassiz is pretty much the reason we came to know how long was the last Ice Age. In 1837, Agassiz was the first to claim the Ice Age concept, though some sporadic work was carried out earlier. His work was first dismissed as stupid. But he carried out further research on Ice Age facts, with supporting geological evidence, and people finally started believing him. Agassiz was an ichthyologist and his pioneering study of glaciers began merely as a hobby.