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Ice Age Mammals of North America: A Guide to the Big, the Hairy, and the Bizarre

by Ian Lange
Missoula, MT: Mountain Press Publishing Company, 2002. 224 pages.

The time is the Pleistocene epoch, about 2 million to 10,000 years ago. Continent-size ice sheets cover 30 percent of the earth's landmass, and strange creatures rove the landscape. Ice Age Mammals of North America transports you to the world of saber-tooth cats, woolly mammoths, four-hundred-pound beavers, and twenty-foot-tall ground sloths. The book opens with an overview of the geologic events that led to the Pleistocene epoch and explores possible causes for the ice ages. Generously illustrated descriptions of the animals themselves — what they looked like, how and where they lived, how they may have interacted with early humans — form the heart of the book. A final chapter examines the question of why so many of these animals became extinct by the end of the Pleistocene time. Fun sidebars explore such topics as why some Ice Age animals were so large and how natural processes preserved and even mummified specimens. A list of museums and fossil sites tells readers where they can view remains of these fascinating creatures.