Ice Age Bay Area - KQED Quest

Imagine the San Francisco Bay Area during the most recent Ice Age at the end of the Pleistocene epoch: a lush, green valley that San Francisco Bay now fills; coasts that extend 12 feet farther into the sea than they currently do; abundant wildlife and megafaunal mammals, like mastodons, short-faced bears, camels, llamas, saber-tooth cats, and mammoths; new human inhabitants who are fortunate enough to happen upon this eden of life, but unfortunate enough to have to deal with the fierce short-faced bears and cats that are larger-than-life and deadly.I just watched an 11-minute segment from KQED Quest about the Bay Area during the Ice Age. It centered on these unique "rubbing rocks" along the Sonoma Coast. These boulders, the narrator says, tell an "ancient story." There is some polish on these rocks that was not created by wind, water or other geologic causes, and some of the polish is found 10-12 feet above the ground, indicating that it was made by something large. E. Breck Parkman, the Senior Archaeologist for California State Parks, believes it was made by Columbian mammoths during the late Pleistocene, rubbing their coats against the rocks after covering themselves in mud to remove ectoparasites from their body. After generations and generations of mammoths rubbing up against these rocks, the rocks became polished.

Then Douglas Long, Chief Curator of Natural Sciences at the Oakland Museum of California, spoke about the various animals that lived in the area thousands of years ago. I never knew that our state's fossil is the sabertooth cat (Smilodon californicus, below), which was an animal that lived during the last Ice Age.So what happened to these large mammals? Overkilling by the new humans? Global warming that devastating the natural environment of the Bay Area and removed the animal habitat? A combination of the two? Understanding the Pleistocene epoch, the program says, can inform our decisions regarding present-day global warming and how and what we protect as our climate changes. I highly recommend watching it here, or below.

QUEST on KQED Public Media.

Thanks for reading,
Green Gal

P.S. I have one more AP test this week and then I'll have a lot more time to post on here. Senior year is crazy, for sure!


When we contemplate the whole globe as one great dewdrop, striped and dotted with continents and islands, flying through space with other stars all singing and shining together as one, the whole universe appears as an infinite storm of beauty.
-- John Muir


  1. What a great video. I had no idea so many large mammals used to live in the Bay Area. The short-faced bear--which was BIGGER than a Grizzly!--must have been an amazing creature.

    We truly do need to preserve what we have left of mammals and other animals.

    Thanks for sharing this with us!

  2. A friend just told me about some mammoth bones that were found at a local community college. Check it out:


Post a Comment

I love reading comments and am always up for a discussion! Thank you!

Popular Posts