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Desert Diary
Climate/Pleistocene Park


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You've heard of Jurassic Park, now how about Pleistocene Park. The Pleistocene is known as the Ice Age and ended around 10,000 years ago. Aside from being characterized by large ice sheets in North America and elsewhere, the Pleistocene of this continent was blessed with a wide variety of large animals now extinct, including mammoths, camels, various horses, pronghorn antelopes, dire wolves, a variety of the African Lion, a cheetah-like cat, ground sloths, and the huge short-faced bear. Ecologists have no doubt that these animals played a large role in shaping the ecology of the land—a role now missing because of the extinctions.

It has now been proposed that, over the next century or so, endangered relatives of many of these extinct forms be reintroduced into large, fenced regions. This would have the dual goals of restoring a more natural ecosystem and helping to prevent the extinction of such animals as Asian and African elephants, the Bactrian Camel, the Cheetah, and Przewalski's Horse. Our children may yet view the North American scene as it was meant to be seen.
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Listen to the Audio (mp3 format) as recorded by KTEP, Public Radio for the Southwest.


Contributor: Arthur H. Harris, Laboratory for Environmental Biology, Centennial Museum, University of Texas at El Paso.

Desert Diary is a joint production of the Centennial Museum and KTEP National Public Radio at the University of Texas at El Paso.