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The Beringia sub-continent may have vanished with the end of the last great ice age, but parts of this lost land can still be found in northern and central Yukon, Alaska, and eastern Siberia. Located on the edge of the Arctic, Beringia contained mostly ice, enormous mammals, and the First People of North America.

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The Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre brings a long-lost region back to life through full-size skeletons, educational dioramas, and its star attraction–a 26,000 preserved Yukon horse hide and hoof. This unique find was discovered near Dawson City in 1993.

Wild horses
[Photo courtesy of Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre]

During the Klondike Gold Rush, those out to get their golden piece of the pie also came across strange objects in the ground, drawing scientists to the area for recording and collecting ice-age fossils. During the 60’s and 70’s, additional fossils and artifacts were taken from the Old Crow area, allowing scientists to confirm further evidence of the area’s original inhabitants.

Beringia wooly mammoth replica
[Beringia Woolly mammoth]

A full-scale skeleton replica of the largest wooly mammoth ever recovered in North America shares space with other pre-ice age creatures such as the scimitar cat and the giant short-faced bear. The Woolly preceded the modern Asiatic elephant. For thousands of years, the three-metre-high mammoths roamed the Beringian steppe, feeding on tough, dry grass while managing to elude human hunters.

Giant Short-Faced Bear (Arctodus Simus)
[Giant Short-Faced Bear (Arctodus Simus)]

Beringia Steppe Bison (Bison Priscus)
[Beringia Steppe Bison (Bison Priscus)]

The Yukon horse was comparable in size to a modern pony. It inhabited eastern Beringia (currently the Yukon and Alaska). It was a common Ice Age species along with the woolly mammoth and steppe bison. The horse’s demise was most likely caused by changing flora and climate as well as human predation.

It wasn’t until the 1500’s that the horse was reintroduced to North America by European settlers to the region.

“Where Legends Meet” sculpture by Keith Wolfe Smarch, Brian Walker, and Mark Porter
[“Where Legends Meet” by Keith Wolfe Smarch, Brian Walker, and Mark Porter]

“Ch’itahu`ukaii – The Traveller” by Halin de Repentigny
[“Ch’itahu`ukaii – The Traveller” by Halin de Repentigny]

The Interpretive Centre also includes a few Yukon artists of First Nations artworks and sculptures, as well as a half-hour film that combines Yukon’s history with stories of North America’s First People.

Beringia Centre and mammoth
[Photo courtesy of Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre]

The Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre is located on the Alaskan Highway, close to Whitehorse International Airport (five minutes from downtown). Visit the website for details and opening hours.

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