Was This Cave Bear Really “Prehistoric”? | The Institute for Creation Research
Was This Cave Bear Really “Prehistoric”?
The preserved carcass of a “prehistoric” cave bear has been discovered in melting permafrost on an Arctic Russian Island.1,2 Reindeer herders discovered the remains of the adult cave bear on Bolshoy (or Great) Lyakhovsky Island, part of the New Siberian Islands off the coast of northern Russia.2 This is the first time that a whole bear carcass with preserved soft tissues has been discovered. Even the bear’s teeth and nose were preserved.

Other well-preserved carcasses have been recently discovered in Russia, including a bear cub and a Siberian lark.1,3 Of course, these are in addition to the well-known woolly mammoth carcasses that have also been found in Siberian permafrost—frozen ground.

These carcasses, particularly those of the woolly mammoths, present a major mystery to uniformitarian scientists. Millions of woolly mammoths lived in Siberia during the Ice Age.4 But today, Siberia’s winters are brutally cold, with lows often reaching -40 degrees Fahrenheit.5 In some places, temperatures occasionally reach -90 degrees Fahrenheit—colder than the surface of Mars!6 It’s very difficult to see how even woolly mammoths could endure that kind of bitter cold. To make matters worse, uniformitarian scientists think temperatures during the Ice Age were even colder than they are now!7

However, the Flood Ice Age model easily solves this mystery.8 Because of rapid seafloor spreading and volcanism during the Genesis Flood, oceans after the Flood would have been considerably warmer than they are now, and this would have been true even for the Arctic and northern Pacific Oceans. These warm waters moderated the Ice Age climate of Siberia, much in the same way the Pacific Ocean moderates the climate of Seattle, Washington, despite the city’s high latitude. Although winters in Ice Age Siberia were still cold, they were much milder than they are today. In fact, evaporating water from these warmer oceans were the source of the abundant snowfall needed to cause the Ice Age in the first place.

That sounds fairly straightforward, and it is. So why can’t uniformitarians use a warm, ice-free Arctic Ocean to explain mammoths and other animals thriving in Ice Age Siberia? Because according to the secular history, the Arctic Ocean was not ice-free during the Ice Age! Secular scientists think Arctic sea ice has been in continual existence for at least a hundred thousand years.9 Since they believe woolly mammoths lived in Siberia for many tens of thousands of years—becoming extinct only about twelve thousand years ago—they cannot make use of an ice-free Arctic Ocean because their secular history says the Arctic Ocean wasn’t ice free at that time!

As the glaciers melted back at the end of the Ice Age, meltwater flowed onto the Arctic Ocean. This less dense freshwater floated above the denser saltwater, freezing to form sea ice. This resulted in a much colder climate in Siberia, as well as a large temperature contrast between the high and low latitudes, which drove very strong winds. Moreover, as the oceans cooled, the climate became drier. The combination of a colder, windier, and drier climate was too much for the slow-moving mammoths. They were overcome by cold and drought, and many of them were buried (sometimes alive) in giant dust storms, with the surrounding material eventually becoming permafrost. In fact, most mammoth carcasses have been found preserved in frozen hills of windblown silt.10 This is likely how some of these carcasses, including the newly-discovered cave bear, were preserved.11 Although more mobile creatures such as birds would have been more likely to escape, some might occasionally have been trapped and buried in the dust storms, as well.3

But was this cave bear really “prehistoric”? Creationists think the secular age assignments have been inflated, and that the Ice Age would have lasted for just hundreds of years, starting after the Genesis Flood, only about 4,500 years ago. In fact, creationists would reject the very concept of “prehistory.” Since the history in Genesis 1 goes back to the very beginning of the universe, there is no such thing as a “prehistoric” time period—all history has been recorded!

Stage image: Ice Age cave bear found "perfectly preserved" on Russian Arctic island.
Stage image credit: North-Eastern Federal University via AP. 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. Liesowska, A. First ever preserved grown up cave bear – even its nose is intact – unearthed on the Arctic island. The Siberian Times. Posted on Siberiantimes.com September 12, 2020, accessed September 24, 2020.
2. Rogers, J. Perfectly preserved prehistoric cave bear discovered on Russian Arctic island. Fox News. Posted on Foxnews.com September 16, 2020, accessed September 24, 2020.
3. Rogers, J. Frozen bird discovered in Siberia is 46,000 years old, scientists discover. Fox News. Posted on Foxnews.com February 21, 2020, accessed September 24, 2020.
4. Flynn, C. Mammoth mining in Siberia. Financial Review. Posted on AFR.com April 25, 2020, accessed September 24, 2020.
5. Titus, M. Climate in Siberia, Russia. USA Today. Posted on Traveltips.usatoday.com and updated on February 5, 2018, accessed September 24, 2020.
6. Rice, D. So you think you’re cold? How does 88 below zero sound? USA Today. Posted on USAtoday.com January 17, 2018, accessed September 24, 2020.
7. History.com Editors. Ice Age. History. Posted on History.com March 11, 2015, updated June 7, 2019, accessed September 24, 2020.
8. Oard, M. J. 2004. Frozen in Time: Woolly Mammoths, the Ice Age, and the Biblical Key to Their Secrets (Second printing). Green Forest, AR: Master Books.
9. Johnston, I. Arctic could become ice-free for first time in more than 100,000 years, claims leading scientist. Independent. Posted on Independent.co.uk June 4, 2016, accessed September 24, 2020.
10. Oard, Frozen in Time, 157–173.
11. Some have argued that the partial preservation of plant remains in the stomachs of mammoth carcasses required a “quick freeze,” in which the temperature rapidly plunged to -150 degrees Fahrenheit. However, creation researcher Michael Oard makes a strong case that a quick freeze isn’t necessary. Many mammoth remains are not so well-preserved, and preservation of food content seems to be rare and exceptional. And partially preserved plant material has also been found in the guts of mastodons preserved in peat bogs in the northeastern United States where such a quick freeze isn’t even hypothesized. Instead, the occasional preservation of plant material in mammoth stomachs is more likely due to the fact that little digestion of food occurs in elephant stomachs (most digestion occurs in the cecum and colon), and the same was likely true for mammoths and mastodons. See Oard, Frozen in Time, 154–56.

*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.
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