But in Siberia, where, as we have seen, some of the large mammalia were caught and entombed in ice, and preserved even to our own day, there was no “smashing” and “crushing” of the earth, and many escaped the snow-sheets, and their posterity survived in that region for long ages after the Glacial period, and are supposed only to have disappeared in quite recent times. In fact, within the last two or three years a Russian exile declared that he had seen a group of living mammoths in a wild valley in a remote portion of that wilderness.
These, then, good reader, to recapitulate, are points that seem to be established:
I. The Drift marked a world-convulsing catastrophe. It was a gigantic and terrible event. It was something quite out of the ordinary course of Nature’s operations.
II. It was sudden and overwhelming.
[1. “Prehistoric Times,” p. 372.
2. “The Great Ice Age,” p. 466.]
III. It fell upon land areas, much like our own in geographical conformation; a forest-covered, inhabited land; a glorious land, basking in perpetual summer, in the midst of a golden age.
Let us go a step further.
GREAT HEAT A PREREQUISITE.
Now, it will be observed that the principal theories assigned for the Drift go upon the hypothesis that it was produced by extraordinary masses of ice—ice as icebergs, ice as glaciers, or ice in continental sheets. The scientists admit that immediately preceding this Glacial age the climate was mild and equable, and these great formations of ice did not exist. But none of them pretend to say how the ice came or what caused it. Even Agassiz, the great apostle of the ice-origin of Drift, is forced to confess:
“We have, as yet, no clew to the source of this great and sudden change of climate. Various suggestions have been made—among others, that formerly the inclination of the earth’s axis was greater, or that a submersion of the continents under water might have produced a decided increase of cold; but none of these explanations are satisfactory, and science has yet to find any cause which accounts for all the phenomena connected with it."
Some have imagined that a change in the position of the earth’s axis of rotation, due to the elevation of extensive mountain-tracts between the poles and the equator, might have caused a degree of cold sufficient to produce the phenomena of the Drift; but Geikie says—
“It has been demonstrated that the protuberance of the earth at the equator so vastly exceeds that of any
[1. “Geological Sketches,” p. 210.]
possible elevation of mountain-masses between the equator and the poles, that any slight changes which may have resulted from such geological causes could have had only an infinitesimal effect upon the. general climate of the globe."