by HUM News staff
WHITEHORSE, Yukon Territory, Canada (HN, Feb. 26) - Imagining 'Beringia' is a prehistoric journey. On HUM News' recent trip to the Yukon capital city of Whitehorse, our crew visited the Yukon Beringia Interpretive Center to learn about the ancient land bridge which is said to have connected the northern and central Yukon, and Alaska territories with Siberia. Beringia vanished with the end of the last Ice Age, almost 10,000 years ago, but parts of this lost land can still be seen in the topography of the region.
The term Beringia comes from the name of Arctic explorer, Vitus Jonassen Bering, a Danish-born sea captain who served in the Russian Navy during the 18th Century. From 1725-1730, and 1733-1741, Bering headed both the First and Second 'Kamchatka Expeditions', which ventured the waters of the North Pacific between Asia and North America including the strait that lies between Chukotka Peninsula and Seward Peninsula; Siberia and Alaska, respectively, and which now bears Bering’s name.
Over the past 2 million years, the climate of the northern hemisphere has been dominated by huge ice sheets. During each Ice Age, vast glaciers formed in the Northern Hemisphere, locking up much of the world's water as ice.
The shallow sea now separating Asia from North America dropped about 300 ft and created a 1,000-mile wide grassland plateau, linking Asia and North America together in the "Bering Land Bridge" or `Beringia’, which scientists believe allowed human beings to first enter North America from Eurasia.
Three migrations are thought to have occurred between 15,000 and 12,000 years ago, which archaeologists surmise included Paleo-Indians, ancestors of all South American and most North American Indians; as well as ancestors of the Eskimo and Aleuts, included in the Siberian-American Paleoarctic history of peoples.
The US National Park Service administers the Shared Beringian Heritage Program and is actively working for the establishment of a Beringian Heritage International Park along with Russian-government counterparts. Since 1996, these two nations have held an annual Beringia Days Conference each fall.
Park Beringia: http://www.beringiapark.ru/indexen.php?right=newsen
Yukon Interpretive Center: http://www.beringia.com/