Beringia (American Indians Ready Reference)
Beringia is the name given to a land bridge that once existed in the region now known as the Bering Strait. It was periodically exposed toward the end of Pleistocene epoch, when water deposited through precipitation on the polar ice caps resulted in a lowering of global sea levels as much as 400 feet below what they are now. With the rise in global temperatures that occurred around 12,000 years ago, Beringia was submerged as sea levels rose.
Only about 60 miles separate Asia and North America in the Bering Strait today. At the time Beringia existed, the land between them was continuous. The land bridge at its maximum extent would have measured more than 600 miles wide from north to south, representing an expanse of territory indistinguishable from the areas of Siberia and Alaska it connected.
Warmed by the Japanese Current, Beringia had a tundra-like climate. It was occupied by migratory herds of Pleistocene animals, including woolly mammoth, bison, and reindeer. These animals provided food and clothing for nomadic peoples of northeast Asia, who were drawn to the hunting grounds of Beringia. Over time, these peoples moved east and south into the North American continent, where they became the ancestors of American Indian populations.
The Asian ancestry of American Indians is supported by dental patterns, blood group markers, and other physical and genetic characteristics which indicate that American Indians are more similar to...
(The entire section is 334 words.)
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