It was an age of deep freezes and roaming megafauna. Modern humans had not yet evolved. And woolly rhinos, mammoths, mastodons and giant sloths still ruled the earth. Known informally as the “Ice Age”, the Pleistocene Epoch was wildly different to the Holocene, our current geological period. Times have changed beyond recognition, but now Russian scientists have recovered a biological relic. And it appears to be a living link with the prehistoric past.
Encompassing huge sections of continental Europe and Asia, Russia is the largest country in the world. From arid semi-desert to sprawling steppes, coniferous forests to broadleaf forests, a diverse range of ecosystems lie within its borders. But above all, Russia is known for its harsh climate, especially at its northernmost latitudes, in Siberia and above the Arctic Circle.
Due to its long, cold, dark winters and its barren, uncultivable earth, Siberia – which encompasses some 77 percent of Russia’s national territory – is one of most sparsely populated places on the planet. Its geological landscape is the product of glacial erosion during the Pleistocene Epoch. And its layers of ancient permafrost are today giving up secrets to 21st century researchers.