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Wilson Butte Cave



Beringia - A Bridge to the Americas

Climate history and human history have always been closely connected. It is widely believed that changes in climate enabled people to migrate into North America about 15,000 years ago, during the last Ice Age.  At that time, ice sheets thousands of feet thick covered all of present-day Canada and the northern United States. Because so much of the earth’s water was captured in the ice sheets, sea levels were lower, and a land bridge extended from Alaska to the western tip of Siberia. Known as Beringia, the land bridge (see map to right) was nearly 1,000 miles wide. It provided a corridor for the first people to migrate from Siberia to Alaska.

The Bering land bridge was used by animals, too. Elephant, deer, elk and moose migrated across Beringia to North America. As these species moved east, the camel and horse, which evolved in the Americas, moved across the land bridge to Eurasia.

Did You Know? 
  • Mammals living in the Bering Land Bridge include the grizzly bear, musk ox, reindeer, wolf, wolverine, fox, and smaller species.
  • Musk Oxen were once extinct on the Seward Peninsula in Alaska. They are thriving today after reintroduction in 1970.
  • More than 170 known species of birds migrate 20,000 miles yearly to the Bering Land Bridge. At the crossroad of the Asiatic-North America flyway, this area offers rare opportunities to observe several old world species.




Next page:  Native American Perspective


Beringia Map
Beringia (from Siberia to Alaska) was nearly 1,000 miles wide.  NPS map.
mastodon and mammoth
Do you know the difference between a mastodon, a mammoth
and an elephant?

Links and References:

Bering Land Bridge National Preserve a National Park Service Website

People of the Northwest Coast, Ames and Maschner, 1999

Monte Verde, Chile 
Beringian Atlas NOAA
Atlas of Paleovegetation

Return to Wilson Butte Cave Homepage


The Mystery of WBC

Recent History of WBC

Who were the First Americans?

What is Archaeology?
    Teacher Activities
     Archaeology FUNdamentals
    • How do Archaeologists Find 

    • Excavation and Documentation
    • At the Laboratory
    • How Old Is It?

What was found at WBC?

Daily Life at WBC  

When Ice was on the Land


Native American Perspective 


Last updated: 06-10-2013