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Mammoths in California

Let's slip back through history... Back before the European colonization of California, back through the much longer Native American period, back more than 200,000 years ago during the late period of the Pleistocene era that began 600,000 years ago.

There are no people living in the Channel Islands region, or on North America, although humans were living other places in the world. Ancient mammoths are migrating across the Bering Land Bridge, a journey that they began 1.5 million years ago. In the Channel region, there is a different landscape than we can see today. The shoreline is one hundred and fifty to three hundred feet lower than we see it today - which means that the location where the cities of Santa Barbara and Ventura are today would have been five miles inland.

We are back during an ice age where polar ice caps hold more of the earth’s waters frozen, and the sea levels are lower than any human being has since ever seen. With the lower sea level, more of the earth’s surface is exposed to the air and sun, and the shape of the islands and coastline along the California Channel is much different than today.

Wild animals and plants flourish in a pre-civilized landscape, untouched by any over powering dominant species. The age of the dinosaurs has long past. This is the age of the mammals and early man is developing on other continents, soon to also follow the mammoths across the Bering Land Bridge into North America. The islands are becoming populated by species either extinct today, or species that have may since have evolved into subspecies that exist only on the Channel Islands. Fossils today tell us of giant mice, a now-extinct flightless geese, vampire bats ( now extinct ), rattlesnakes and gopher snakes, sea otter’s, whales, sharks, prehistoric seaweeds, and as we will see, the remarkable mammoths.

The islands in the northern Channel are actually connected to each other and form a large 724 square mile land mass scientists now call Santarosea. The sea level would at times have been 300 feet lower than it is today, changing the distance between the mainland and the islands significantly. The distance from the tip of Anacapa Island to the mainland would have then been less than five miles ( compared to eleven today ). But most amazing, it is a time where long-furred mammoths roam the mainland - and - somehow cross the Channel to inhabit the islands.