- Project Runeberg -  Through Siberia - the land of the future /
120

(1914) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Arthur G. Chater - Tema: Russia
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THROUGH SIBERIA
bones of frozen extinct animals, and ate the marrow in
them.
Formerly, it was an easier matter to explain such
things. Then one only had to make a deluge or some
other convulsion of nature put an end to the animals,
after which a glacial period suddenly came on to freeze
and preserve them. In our day we do not treat nature
so casually. We think that, even at a great distance of
time, her behaviour was not very different from what it
is now. In the main the same processes have always
made themselves felt.
If we had glaciers to help us, which these clumsy
animals might have walked over, falling into erevasses
and being frozen and inclosed, then it would be easy to
understand, supposing these glaciers had persisted to
our time. But that will not do. Even if the glaciers
were there at that time, which I do not believe, it is
unlikely that animals should be preserved in so many
different places by such pure accidents. In the next place,
of course, they generally lic frozen within the Siberian
soil itself, in strata of sand or clay, and not in iee, as
Baron Toll has clearly proved.
We might, then, be more inclined to suppose that
the animals were drowned in going over thin ice on the
rivers in winter, and were frozen into the ice ; or that
they died on the river-bank in winter, and in the follow
ing spring were carried by the flood and drift-ice north
ward to colder regions, as Middendorff thought ; and
that by the flooding of the river they were carried into
the tundra, and covered by the flood-water with a layer
of sand and mud, which protected them from thawing.
But even this explanation does not meet the case.
Some (like Schrenck and Nehring) have tried to
explain it by supposing that these big animals perished
in snow-storms on the Siberian tundra in winter, and
120

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