Saturday, December 10, 2011

Valley Forge: Conduit to the Pleistocene

The fauna was a strange menagerie of beasts, which included cheetahs, black bears, mastodons and wolves; white-tailed deer, tapirs and jaguars; turkeys, tortoises, short-faced bears and long-nosed boars. It was a place eerily familiar – yet otherworldly – where squirrels, foxes and whipsnakes lived in the shadows of giant sloths, saber-toothed cats and oversized horses. A kaleidoscopic realm, indeed – inhabited by creatures of all shapes and sizes, and those we conceive of as living at different points in space and time – but one not taken from the pages of a Crichton or Atwood novel. It was Valley Forge during the Pleistocene epoch – 750,000 years before Washington quartered the Continental Army there – and a snapshot of its array of life was preserved in the Port Kennedy Bone Cave, a precious fossil deposit that has given scientists a glimpse of the strange blend of creatures that once inhabited eastern North America.

Here is an artist's rendition of the menagerie that existed in eastern North America 750,000 years ago: 

North American Pleistocene fauna

To learn more about prehistoric Valley Forge and the Port Kennedy Bone Cave, click on this link:

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