The “canvas” consists of thousands of red ochre paintings of handprints, geometric shapes, and representations of a wide array of animals, including now-extinct Ice Age animals. Photos and a short video discussing these images can be viewed online.1 This discovery is of interest to biblical creationists for at least two reasons.
First, the paintings testify to the intelligence of Ice Age humans. This is seen not just in the artistic representations themselves, but also in the fact that these people used fire to prepare the rock surfaces for the drawings. And because some of the drawings are at high elevations, the artists would have needed to construct ladders to paint them.3 That Ice Age humans were intelligent should come as no surprise to biblical creationists, since they descended from Noah’s family and emigrated to South America after the confusion of languages and dispersion of people at Babel.4
Second, the press release reminds us that the thick forests we know today were relatively rare during the Ice Age:
At the time the drawings were made temperatures were rising, starting the transformation of the area from a mosaic landscape of patchy savannahs, thorny scrub, gallery forests and tropical forest with montane [mountainous] elements into the broadleaf tropical Amazon forest of today.3
During the Ice Age, thick forests were rare even in places not covered by ice.5 Instead, grassy savannahs and tundra-like landscapes would have been the norm. As the above quote demonstrates, some scientists attempt to explain this dearth of thick forests as the result of colder Ice Age temperatures. This isn’t convincing since evergreen forests can and often do exist in cold climates today.
This mystery has long puzzled uniformitarian scientists, but the Ice Age that was caused by and quickly followed the Genesis Flood explains it.5,6 Because all the world’s forests were destroyed in the Flood, and since thick, naturally seeded forests take hundreds of years to grow, you’d expect thick forests to be rare during a post-Flood Ice Age lasting hundreds of years.7 The fact that trees were used as landmarks during the time of Abraham, who probably lived during the Ice Age, could be a clue that trees were rare then.8
Some scientists think South America may have been an exception to the “missing” Ice Age forests, but other scientists think the opposite. Pollen fossil data used to estimate the sizes and locations of past forests are scarce in South America, making conclusions challenging.5,9-10 In any case, the above quote demonstrates the general consensus that South America had more grasslands and savannahs during the Ice Age, although the extent of the grasslands is debated.11
Scientists hope they can learn more about the Ice Age people who made these drawings. This discovery reminds us that the Bible is a book of real history and this history happened not so long ago.
Stage image: Rock art showing humans interacting with ice age animals.
Stage image credit: Ella Al-Shamahi. Copyright © 2020. Adapted for use in accordance with federal copyright (fair use doctrine) law. Usage by ICR does not imply endorsement of copyright holders.
1. Geggel, L. Sprawling 8-mile-long ‘canvas’ of ice age beasts discovered hidden in Amazon rainforest. LiveScience. Posted on livescience.com December 1, 2020, accessed December 8, 2020.
2. Morcote-Ríos, G. et al. 2020. Colonisation and early peopling of the Colombian Amazon during the Late Pleistocene and the Early Holocene: New evidence from La Serranía La Lindosa. Quaternary International. Posted on sciencedirect.com April 29, 2020.
3. Newly discovered Amazon rock art show the rainforest’s earliest inhabitants living with giant Ice Age animals. University of Exeter news release. Posted on exeter.ac.uk November 30, 2020, accessed December 8, 2020.
4. Genesis 11:1-9.
5. Hebert, J. 2020. Missing Ice Age Forests Fit Flood/Ice Age Model. Acts & Facts. 49 (6): 16-19.
6. Hebert, J. 2018. The Bible Best Explains the Ice Age. Acts & Facts. 47 (11): 10-13.
7. Eng, K. F. How to Grow a Forest Really, Really Fast. TED Fellows. Posted on fellowsblog.ted.com February 18, 2015, accessed December 8, 2020.
8. E.g., Genesis 12:6.
9. Mayle, F. E. et al. 2009. Vegetation and Fire at the Last Glacial Maximum in Tropical South America. In Past Climate Variability in South America and Surrounding Regions: From the Last Glacial Maximum to the Holocene. F. Vimeux, F. Sylvestre, and M. Khodri, eds. New York: Springer, 89-112.
10. Colinvaux, P. A. 1989. Ice-age Amazon revisited. Nature. 340 (6230): 188-189.
11. Tropical rainforest thrived throughout last ice age. University of Michigan News. Posted on news.umich.edu January 5, 2007, accessed December 8, 2020.
*Dr. Jake Hebert is Research Associate at the Institute for Creation Research and earned his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Texas at Dallas.