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First and last refuge
March 8, 2014 5:12 PM   Subscribe

We can't create Jurassic Park era (yet) but there is a place on Earth lost to time, a modern proxy of the Pleistocene (35,000 to 12,000 years ago). Other than the mammoth and a few other species, the flora and fauna remain largely unchanged, even the climate is similar to the last ice age (cold and dry). There are wild horses, reindeer, saiga antelopes, argali sheep, wolverines and snow leopards. The Altai and Sayan mountains of western Mongolia and southern Russia (map)...

..are famous for the Denisova cave where in 2010 a new kind of human was discovered, the Denisovans (previously). It is the only place in the world where artifacts from 3 different hominid species have been found in the same cave. Possibly because local climatic and environmental conditions have remained so stable over the millennium, the area has acted as a sort of species refuge or incubator during hard times. Recent genetic evidence suggests the first Americans can trace their ancestry to the Altai-Sayan mountains. Also in 2010, certain snails thought to have gone extinct during the last ice retreat have been found still living there. Scenic videos: Beautiful Russia. Altai Mountains. The Breath of Altai (flycam).
posted by stbalbach (2 comments total) 37 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is very cool. It's amazing how little we know of our own backyard. Thanks for posting.
posted by Existential Dread at 10:13 PM on March 8


Fascinating post. Thanks, stbalbach.
posted by homunculus at 12:46 AM on March 9


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