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Portland library visitors learn about 'not really cuddly' Ice Age animals
by Shane Ersland
Aug 19, 2014 | 422 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jerrold Simpson displays the shoulder blade of an animal who lived during the Ice Age during a presentation from the Gulf Coast Gem & Mineral Society Aug. 11.
Jerrold Simpson displays the shoulder blade of an animal who lived during the Ice Age during a presentation from the Gulf Coast Gem & Mineral Society Aug. 11.
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Visitors of Portland’s Bell Whittington Public Library learned about some of the massive creatures that walked the Coastal Bend during the Ice Age at a presentation Aug. 11.

Jerrold and Linda Simpson, with the Gulf Coast Gem & Mineral Society, displayed bones from animals that lived in America 13,000 years ago. Linda described what happened when the climate got colder, leading up to the Ice Age.

“As the climate started getting colder, there was less melting,” she said. “Ice kept piling up. There was one mile of ice over New York City, and two miles of ice over Chicago. No plants can grow through that. Animals had to migrate, adapt or die. So, we had a lot of migration.”

Linda said a large lion once prowled the American landscape.

“It was about 25 percent bigger than the African lions we have today,” she said. “They find a lot of these in the tar pits.”

Jerrold said the shells of Ice Age turtles were nine feet long.

“Today, the shells of Galapagos turtles are six feet long,” he said. “So, they were huge animals.”

Linda captured visiting children’s attention when she began comparing actual Ice Age animals with their counterparts in the “Ice Age” movies. She said Ice Age sloths were much bigger than Sid, the sloth in the “Ice Age” movies.

“In real life, Sid was very tall,” Linda said. “He wasn’t really cuddly like he was in the movie. He was nine feet tall.”

Linda said researchers have changed the way they refer to Smilodon, a large, fanged cat from the Ice Age period.

“They used to call them saber-toothed tigers, but they found out they’re more closely related to jaguars,” she said. “So now they call them saber-toothed cats.”

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